OTTAWA (CCN) — As the United States deals with turmoil over so-called “bathroom bills,” Canada’s attorney general has introduced a bill to extend protection to transgender Canadians under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould tabled Bill C-16 in the House of Commons May 17. Later, flanked by dozens of transgender advocates, she boasted that for the first time the transgender flag took its place in the House of Commons foyer.
The bill adds gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination — alongside sex, religion, disability and race — in the Canadian Human Rights Act. It would add “gender identity or expression” to the list of identifiable groups protected from hate propaganda and hate speech in the Criminal Code.
“In Canada, we celebrate inclusion and diversity,” said Wilson-Raybould. “All Canadians should be safe to be themselves.”
The proposed law encountered immediate opposition.
“The prime minister has been drinking too much Kool-Aid with the president of the United States,” said Conservative MP and Justice Committee co-chair Ted Falk, who noted that Justin Trudeau has already visited the United States twice since his election.
“For them (Canada and the United States) to come out almost simultaneously with the same agenda . . .” he said. “It’s very disheartening. It will be an assault on morality and on families.”
“I think people will be in an uproar about it,” he said. “I hope people will get engaged and say this is too much.”
American President Barack Obama recently issued an edict to require all publicly funded schools to allow students who self identify as a gender different from their biological sex to use the bathroom, locker room or other school facility corresponding to their gender of choice.
Wilson-Raybould said she wants an “explicit” law that ensures “transgender and other gender-diverse persons have a right to live free from discrimination, hate propaganda and hate crime.”
Falk said people are being asked to “give up ground” in their personal rights and freedoms to not have to share a bathroom with someone who may not identify with their biological sex.
“I don’t think that’s appropriate,” he said.
“We’re talking about the morality of a country and its citizens, what has been for decades accepted as normal and moral is now being challenged. I think the traditional family is actually being bullied on this.”
Wilson-Raybould wants a speedy passage of her bill, but she would not answer repeated questions on whether the government will whip the vote. In a previous Parliament, an NDP private member’s bill had passed the House of Commons, but failed to pass the Senate.
The news conference ended before the Attorney General could face questions concerning the use of women and girls’ washrooms and locker rooms, or eligibility to play on sports teams of the gender with which one identifies.
McGill University Professor of Christian Thought Douglas Farrow said the agenda behind legislation such as Bill C-16 goes far beyond debates about privacy in bathrooms. He said such bills create “civic strife for which there is no obvious resolution and from which there is no obvious exit.”
“In short, it is doubling down on its euthanasia decision,” he said. “The combined effect of such moves will be to destroy the existing, rather tenuous, social contract.”