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Jan 02 2013

Transgender rights bill status: have Tories run down the clock?

Among all the silence from Harper in response to the #IdleNoMore campaign, there’s also an important bill that’s been all but ignored in the media, and intentionally forestalled by Tories. Stall tactics work, I guess. Ignore the problem til the fury dies down and get the media to look the other way, and all your political hegemonic dreams will come true, I guess.

Bill C-279′s clock may have run out, and I’m having problems finding any further information about it outside of the last time it made it to the floor to be discussed. Apparently some changes were passed to the bill in committee, but through some procedural hiccup that appears to have been intentional, never made it back to the House.

National Post reports:

Last Thursday, Conservative MPs opposed to the bill brought up several objections and procedural questions that ate up most of the time allotted for clause-by-clause consideration and votes.

One Tory MP who doesn’t normally sit on the committee, David Anderson, attended the meeting and took up large chunks of time raising objections to the definition of gender identity.

“Many of the definitions we hear are being made up by those who lobby on this; they’re not definitions in law and they’re not found in legal documents,” said Anderson.
[...]
Garrison said he drew the definition of gender identity from principles laid out in international law.

Ultimately, the committee’s last meeting on the bill ended without MPs being able to conclude their clause-by-clause study.

It will be up to Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer to decide whether he’d allow the same amendments passed at committee — but never reported back — to be raised again and debated in the Commons.

“It’s clear that both sides feel the bill can be improved,” said Liberal MP Sean Casey. “Why we would send it back to the House without having a chance to discuss those amendments is frankly beyond me.”

Beyond me, too. That there’s no serviceable definition on record of trans* identity is a failing that, I’d think, everyone would want to rectify right now, so bills can be put forward with the existing definitions on the books. Using international law as a template is a good option, but I’d also like to see what those definitions are. And never mind how insulting the whole semantics argument is — it’s a problem that’s so easily rectified it’s a blotch on our consciences that we’ve let it slide so long.

I’m slightly more concerned at the moment with the bill getting passed for discussion, then ignored til the next time the House is dissolved, again, just like last time it was read into the record then ignored several years ago. Did Harper’s Conservatives manage to kick the can again? I’ve skimmed the Commons transcripts that reference it but haven’t found any indications as to whether the Tories were successful at running down the clock — or even what the time frame is now. I know the House is out for the holidays and reconvenes January 28th, but don’t know where that leaves this bill.

Do any of you know? I am woefully under-informed on whether or not these blatant stalling tactics are successful, ultimately. This silence is bugging the hell outta me and Google is not helping.

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  1. 1
    heliconia

    I’ve been trying to keep tabs on C-279 too, and I’m even more mystified than you are. (Part of that mystification is my astonishment that the Conservatives would actually think it’s worth their while not to pass it; apparently I am too generous…) Thanks for posting this update.

  2. 2
    michaeld

    Hmm I seem to recall there was similar stalling over a bill that would make herbal remedies fall under existing food and drug guidelines that ultimately doomed it. Though that may have been due to the calling of an election. I’m afraid I’m not much better informed.

  3. 3
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    As far as I know, bills don’t die unless a parliamentary session ends. Since the House is in recess and not prorogued, I think the bill is still alive.

  4. 4
    jose

    Exactly what rights are we talking about? The link only says “discrimination” in a general way.

  5. 5
    michaeld

    It’s addding gender identity and expression to the human rights act and the criminal code. So essentially any law that currently says you can’t discriminate on the subject of race, sex, nationality etc would add GI and GE to the list.

    So that would be things like job discrimination, discrimination in the legal system etc.

  6. 6
    MgS

    C-279 is still active.

    As I understand it, at next reading it will be read in one of two forms:

    Unamended (original text)

    With 2 Amendments as proposed by the Bill’s sponsor.

    One of the two proposed amendments includes the Yogyakarta (I hope I spelt that right) definition of Gender Identity.

    From the perspective of amending the bill to make it better, the Cons basically fillibustered the thing to death in committee and prevented the committee amendment process from returning a coherently modified bill in its report to parliament.

    Since the Cons have no interest in allowing this bill to move forward, but they don’t want to be forced to kill it in the House of Commons or Senate where the vote is a matter of public record (and thus becomes a club to beat them with on rights issues next election), they’ve chosen to try and squash it in committee instead.

    So, yes, I’d say they’ve “kicked the can down the street” quite a ways at this point.

  7. 7
    jose

    Ah, I see thanks.

  8. 8
    theobromine

    David Anderson was the host of the Canadian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast* for a number of years (that mantle has now been passed to Colin Mayes). So, it’s not in the least surprising that Anderson “crashed” the meeting of the committee, and insisted they need to have “a more comprehensive definition of gender identity” (more info here: http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/Conservatives_filibuster_trans_rights_bill-12904.aspx )

    *an “annual ecumenical event offered under the auspices of the Speakers of the Senate and the House of Commons”

  9. 9
    Jason Thibeault

    THAT’S where I’d heard the name before.

    *squints*

  1. 10
    Transgender rights bill passes in Canada! » Lousy Canuck

    [...] on March 20th, despite the Tories’ attempts at kicking the can down the road, NDP, Liberals and a whopping 15 Conservatives passed the controversial transgender rights bill in [...]

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