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Saturday 08 April 2017

Is Canada delaying the inevitable?

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 13th January 2017

Canada's Senate has deferred additional debate over Bill C-16, which will add gender identity and gender expression to its Human Rights Act, until February 2017. However, its passage is virtually assured. So, why is the Canadian Christian Right continuing its last spiteful display of venom against the bill?

The passage of the bill is almost assured, however. While earlier incarnations of transgender rights bills, such as C-279, fell at the Canadian Senate select committee and committee of the whole house stages of debate. Unlike New Zealand, where select committee consideration usually occurs between the first and second readings of legislation or private members bills, the select committee phase occurs after the second reading within the Canadian Senate.

As with select committees elsewhere in the British Commonwealth though, it provides opportunities for scrutiny of the bill from both opponents and supporters. When Bill C-279 reached this stage, Conservative Senator Don Plett used the stage to sabotage the bill, including exemptions that 'protected' ciswomen from encountering transwomen in jails, women's shelters, toilets and changing rooms. Independent Senators now outnumber Conservatives on Senate committees, however, so Plett will be unable to pull that stunt again.

However, Plett has claimed that trans-exclusive radical feminists and anti-bill transpeople have 'contacted' him, asking him to defeat the legislation once more. He also claims that social science departments 'invent' new phobias in response to claims against transphobia. Plett has also claimed that the legislation will force criminalisation of those who distribute anti-transgender hate propaganda, based on criticisms of the bill from the University of Toronto's Jordan Peterson, arguing that the hate propaganda section amounts to 'politically correct' censorship of transphobic speech and media.

In response to this grandstanding, Amnesty International Canada and the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity have started pro-transgender petitions to cancel out this 'white noise' campaign from the Canadian Christian Right. Criticising Peterson, others note that Canada accepts that there is a legitimate place for hate propaganda criminalisation in other contexts, such as Holocaust denial, white supremacism and anti-Semitism, so accept anti-transgender hate propaganda bans as a consequence and dismiss his fears about 'politically correct' infringement of 'free speech.'

This may well be a reaction against the US alt-right's use of racist, sectarian and other hate propaganda to win Donald Trump support during last year's US presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton and perceived 'free speech absolutism' to Canada's south.

Predictably, the Canadian Christian Right is busy regurgitating US Christian Right propaganda, tactics and strategies against Bill C-16. Some opponents, such as one fundamentalist US Christian Post columnist have argued that Bill C-16 amounts to "leftist totalitarianism." Interestingly, one doesn't recall such concern for human rights and civil liberties when it comes to US Muslims over the last decade or so from this quarter.

Hypocrisy much? It should also be noted that Canadian 'social conservatives' upheld the 'free speech rights' of anti-Semitic Holocaust denier and teacher Jim Keegstra, even welcoming him within the fundamentalist-dominated but defunct Canadian Social Credit Party as a member and potential leader.

Fortunately, it looks like the Canadian transgender community won't have to put with this nonsense and hatemongering for too much longer. Would that New Zealand could similarly see the light and join the twenty first century by providing direct inclusion of gender identity within the Human Rights Act 1993.


Dylan Robertson: "Senate delays trans rights bill debate until February" Daily Xtra: 20.12.2016:

Canada: Call on the Senate to protect transgender rights: Amnesty International: 05.12.2016:

Canadian Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity: "Take Action for Trans Rights" 22.11.2016:

Simona Chiose: "University of Toronto professor defends right to use gender specific pronouns" Globe and Mail: 19.11.2016:

Anna Sibal: "Decoding Bill C-16: Does It Threaten Canadian's Freedoms?" McGill International Review: 12.12.2016:

Lisa Cumming: "Are Jordan Peterson's Claims about Bill C-16 Correct?" Torontoist: 19.12.2016:

Not Recommended:

Napp Nazworth: "To Understand Leftist Totalitarianism, Watch This" Christian Post: 17.12.2016:

Craig Young - 13th January 2017

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