On Wednesday (March 20), legislation that aims to protect transgender people from discrimination took a big step toward becoming law. The House of Commons passed Bill C-279 by a vote of 149-137 at third reading, sending it on to the Senate.
Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca NDP MP Randall Garrison’s private member’s bill would add gender identity and gender expression to the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. It would also amend the Criminal Code to outlaw hate speech that advocates genocide against groups distinguished by gender, and to allow evidence that a crime was motivated by hate based on gender to be taken into account during sentencing.
NDP, Liberal, and Bloc Québécois MPs who were present for third reading (Liberal leadership frontrunner Justin Trudeau was notably absent), along with Green Leader Elizabeth May, all voted “yea” on the bill. Most Conservative MPs, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, voted “nay”.
However, 18 of members of the governing majority, including four cabinet ministers and four B.C. MPs, bucked the trend and supported transgender rights. Here’s a list of them:
- Chris Alexander (Ajax-Pickering)
- John Baird (Ottawa West-Nepean), minister of foreign affairs
- Michael Chong (Wellington-Halton Hills), former minister of intergovernmental affairs
- John Duncan (Vancouver Island North), former minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development
- Jim Flaherty (Whitby-Oshawa), minister of finance
- Shelly Glover (Saint Boniface)
- Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre)
- Gerald Keddy (South Shore-St. Margaret’s)
- Kellie Leitch (Simcoe-Grey)
- Cathy McLeod (Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo)
- James Moore (Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam), minister of Canadian heritage
- Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East)
- Erin O’Toole (Durham)
- Lisa Raitt (Halton), minister of labour
- Bruce Stanton (Simcoe North)
- Bernard Trottier (Etobicoke-Lakeshore)
- David Wilks (Kootenay-Columbia)
- Terence Young (Oakville)