Wednesday, June 26, 2013

C-279 Vote Stalled By Conservatives At Third Stage

Canadian SenateWell, it was only a matter of time before the Conservatives in the Canadian Senate showed their anuses and did so as Bill C-279 was on the verge of passing.  

For those of you new to this story, C-279 is a  Canadian federal trans rights bill would add gender identity to the list of  grounds protected from discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act and under the hate propaganda section of the Criminal Code.  

It passed successfully out of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights on June 10, but with it being only a tantalizing two hours of debate, an affirmative vote and Royal Assent away from becoming law the fun started in the Conservative dominated Senate chamber to slow its roll toward that happening

First Conservative lesbian senator (why am I not surprised) Nancy Ruth added an amendment to C-279 on June 13 that adds "ethnic origin, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation” to the bill citing the specious reason 'that it was time to do so'.  

“This bill will add the category of gender identity to section 318 of the Criminal Code, but one of the categories missing in that enumerated ground is the category of ‘sex,’” Ruth said on the floor of the Senate

“We had a chance 10 years ago when we put ‘sexual orientation’ in that section of the Criminal Code. This is the time to add now the category ‘sex’ for the women of Canada.” 

You've been in the Canadian Senate since 2005 and you haven't been concerned about that issue until a bill that protects the rights of transpeople in the Great White North is about to pass.   Transphobic much? 

If Ruth’s amendment were to pass which was unlikely according to Sen. Mitchell since it didn't have support,  the bill would have to go back to the Conservative dominated House of Commons and pass again.  If the amendment was defeated and the bill subsequently passed, C-279 would move on to royal assent stage and become law.

But first it has to get a vote, which Conservative Senator and Government Leader Marjory LeBreton isn't allowing to happen according to Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell, the senate sponsor of C-279. 

“The real disappointment that has become clear in the last few days is they are not going to allow it to come to a vote. The bill will not be voted on, amended or unamended,” he predicted in an interview.
“They are not calling a vote because the leadership in the Senate doesn’t want to have a vote. Because the prime minister voted against it, probably,” he said.

“I deeply care about this,” said Senator Mitchell. “My caucus deeply cares about this. It is a betrayal of democracy that elected MPs representing 65 percent of the popular vote supported this bill and the Conservative leadership in the Senate won’t even allow a vote.”

So do trans Canadians, who were hoping they would have something to really celebrate on Canada Day.

Even if they don't allow a vote on C-279 before the Senate goes on summer break June 28, it would return to the order paper at the third reading stage in the fall unless Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogues Parliament.  If that happens, because it is a private member's bill, C-279 would start all over again in the Senate at the first reading stage.

Well, as Dr. King once stated, we must accept finite disappointment, but we must never give up infinite hope.

You will see that day my Canadian trans cousins when your human rights are protected by your federal legislature far sooner that it will happen south of the 49th parallel. 

It just won't be before July 1 as you'd hoped.

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