A rare bit of good news coming from the Canadian Parliament yesterday:
A bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgender Canadians was approved by the House of Commons on Wednesday. The Opposition private member’s legislation passed by a vote of 149-137, with the crucial support of 16 Conservatives, including four cabinet ministers. It was one of the first tests of the Conservative caucus’ resolve on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in Canada at a time when Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has been mounting a strong defence of such rights abroad.
The thing to remember in this story is that a majority of sitting members of Parliament are Republican North Party members, and all bills require nothing more than a simple majority to pass or fail. If the government had ‘whipped’ the bill – meaning that a strict party-line vote was required – it would have failed. To Stephen Harper’s credit, one of the few areas where he’s been consistent is in allowing his members to ‘vote their conscience’ on these kinds of bills. Of course his conscience led him to vote against granting legal protection to trans Canadians, but luckily enough of his members weren’t as amoral as the boss.
It’s also worth noting that this was an opposition-sponsored bill, so its passage is all the more remarkable. The RNP has treated the opposition as an annoyance and a punching bag as long as they’ve been in power, often railing against their ideas for amendments and then trying to smuggle those same ideas into their bills in committee. Their belligerence has led them to pass flawed bill after flawed bill, because their inability to see governing as being different from campaigning has put them in a position of reflexive dismissal of any ideas that don’t originate within their own caucus.
And then there’s the fact that the party is still full of shitheels like Rob Anders:
Shortly before Wednesday’s vote, Calgary MP Rob Anders tabled a petition “on behalf of thousands” of Canadians opposed to what he called “the bathroom bill.”
“These constituents feel that it is the duty of the House of Commons to protect and safeguard our children from any exposure and harm that would come from giving a man access to women’s public washroom facilities,” Mr. Anders said.
I have to confess that, except to interpret it as simple and disgusting transphobia, I don’t understand this preoccupation with bathrooms, and why it would be the case that children are particularly under siege by legions of men who would totally go into women’s bathrooms and molest them, save for the security pat-down that currently faces them outside of every woman’s washroom in the country. The fact that Rob Anders managed to find 2000 backwoods assholes to believe that fantasy enough to sign his petition is as unsurprising as it is unpersuasive.
So universal recognition of human rights takes one tiny step forward in Canada, the bigots in the RNP identify themselves in a recorded vote, and the existence of trans Canadians moves on to the national stage. Not bad for a Wednesday.
P.S. Meanwhile, across the pond, a trans woman was publicly hounded by the Daily Mail until she committed suicide.
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