1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 174
Thursday, June 13, 2013
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Canadian Human Rights Act
Bill to Amend—Third Reading—Debate Adjourned
Hon. Grant Mitchell moved third reading of Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity).
He said: Honourable senators, having endeared myself to the other side on the budget debate, I will now talk about something that in many respects is of deeper consequence, more profound consequence than an economy, and that is the question of human rights protections for the vulnerable.
Bill C-279 would provide protection, underlining rights for a very important minority community in our society, and that is transgendered people.
I will begin by saying that I greatly appreciate the debate in the house. Second, I greatly appreciate the work of the Senate committee, chaired by Senator Jaffer, working under somewhat intense pressure and a short period of time, trying to get this through to a point where we could have third reading debate and a vote on the measure before the end of the session, before prorogation, which would set this back unfortunately and unnecessarily.
I thank the members of the committee for their strong work. I observed a good deal of it. I have read a good deal more of it through transcripts and really appreciate the committee allowing the bill to come through to third reading, to pass the committee stage, and here we are, debating something that we all know is extremely important, from whatever side you view it.
My sense of the testimony, my sense of the issue is that there is a clear need for protection in the human rights legislation and in the Criminal Code of transgendered people. Honourable senators have heard the statistics and the stories. We heard from transgendered people at committee. There are powerful and compelling stories that are underlined by a broad base of statistics, which in many respects are quite startling.
Often in politics, we know that we have very powerful and moving experiences, and, for me, this has been one of those. As I have talked to transgender people and heard their stories, understood as much as someone who has never lived the kind of lives they have had to live — the discrimination, pain and alienation — it has been powerfully moving.
Statistics, of course, say something and I will mention a number of things. They underline the economic discrimination, the discrimination in health care and housing, and simple psychological discrimination — abuse, bullying and often intense violence.
Transgender people spend a great deal of their lives living in fear that they will be singled out, picked on, lose jobs, lose housing or not be able to get jobs often because of, in some respects, the ignorance in our society.
Seventy per cent of transgender people earn less than $30,000 per year. That is considerably below any kind of average income for Canadians. Seventy-three per cent of transgender people have post-secondary education; 38 per cent have completed a post- secondary degree program; 7 per cent have a master’s degree or better. They are highly educated as a group, and they are significantly underpaid as a group.
Transgender people are one of the most targeted groups for violent crimes. They suffer inordinate rates of depression; they suffer inordinate rates of suicide attempts; and, as would, unfortunately, logically be derived from that statistic, inordinate rates of suicide. Particularly disturbing and emotional for many of us is the fact that this affects young transgender people, in particular, and their rates of suicide attempt and suicide are astronomically higher than their counterparts who are not transgender.
There is a huge portion of young transgender people and adult transgender people who experience daily psychological attacks, bullying, verbal abuse and a huge percentage that suffer physical, sometimes brutal attacks.
This is something that will not be stopped with a panacea solution such as this bill, but this bill is something we can do that will make an immediate difference and, certainly, in the longer run.
There is a risk in talking about personal interest stories, but at some level these stats do not quite grab or capture what is at stake. These are human beings; they are friends; they are family members; they are colleagues; they are people you may work with; or people who you are sitting beside in a cafeteria. At that moment, you do not realize they are transgender, but when discovered, they suffer, and they often suffer, as I have pointed out, in terrible ways.
One of the transgender people whom I met during this process, very intelligent and very helpful, told me that she was born with an assigned gender — male — but as early as she can remember, she would go to bed at night in a religious family and pray she would wake up a girl. This is not something that she made up. She was four, five or six years old. You could not contrive to want to do that. It is not a lifestyle choice. It is who she is, and throughout her life she struggled with that. Finally, she came out, as it were, and made the transition. Since that time, her father, who is a very intelligent person, a professor, insisted that it is a disease, a health problem, and insisted for a period of time that she take certain tests and counselling. Never, of course, was it going to work. Her sister has not spoken to her since she came out. She has never met her nieces and nephews. Her mother will have her in the house but not on the Sabbath and not with anyone else. Imagine what that does. In part, yes, it is a family matter, you might argue, but it is also true that that kind of concern has never been validated in the way it would be validated by this piece of legislation.
Another example is the testimony of a woman who was born with an assigned gender of male, became a renowned pianist, studied at Juilliard, appeared in New York, received a written commendation, congratulations, recognition from President Reagan, won a huge international music competition, the Mozart Competition in Russia, was appearing 50 or 60 times a year, was teaching successfully and then went into transition. After that, her requests for appearances dropped to two per year, she lost her job, and these are the kinds of experience that they have. We can do better than that, and we can do better than that by taking this step that can make a difference in their lives.
There are arguments against this legislation and those arguments have been made by people in this house and elsewhere, people who are genuine, serious people and who believe in the arguments they are making. That is the power of debate in this place and I would like to respond to some of those arguments.
One argument that we all heard and we certainly received a great deal of correspondence on was the idea that the definition of gender is subjective and deeply personal, because your gender is deeply held and personal. It is not really a belief, but in some senses, that is the word that comes to mind.
Why would that be a problem in this legislation? The fact is that religion is a deeply held personal belief. There is no defining characteristic unless there is a certain dress that might define it, but most of us in this place have religions that we understand and hold. There is no outward sign of that at all, yet religion is defended in the Human Rights Act. In fact, much of, if not most of what the courts do is to determine often what people are thinking. They are determining and assessing subjective evaluations of all kinds of things. One of the great ironies in this case is that it is not the subjective evaluation or subjective belief of the person who is being discriminated against that is operative here; it is the subjective belief of the discriminator against that person that is operative.
In every case of discrimination before a tribunal or a court, the courts have had to assess the discriminator’s subjective beliefs because, by definition, discrimination has to be based on subjective belief. It cannot be based on fact; it cannot be based on empirical evidence. Courts never assess empirical evidence with respect to discrimination cases because the discriminator’s beliefs are wrong, not fact-based — cannot be by definition — and must, therefore, be subjective.
There is a whole body of human rights law based on human rights legislation across the country that, by definition, is based upon the assessment of a subjective evaluation.
We can go further than that. First, with respect to this definition right now, these cases to some extent are being heard in tribunals across the country, but the definition of “sex” or “sexual orientation” has to be worked to fix it. This will actually give it greater clarification, not less clarification. It begins the process of greater clarification in an important piece of legislation.
Not only that, but there is ample evidence of definition in these tribunals — legal definitions and psychological definitions. Much work has been done. This is an understood phenomenon in our society, at least at legal and psychological technical levels, though not broadly or widely enough understood.
My point is that subjective definition should not be a reason to exclude or vote against this, because, by definition, human rights law is based upon the evaluation of subjective definition, as is criminal law. I am not a lawyer, but much of criminal law is based upon intention and state of mind. Did someone mistakenly have a car accident or was there intent? Was there premeditation in a murder or was there not?
Those things are assessed all the time by the courts. That is what the courts do, in fact. They are well experienced, able and critically established to do that. It is very interesting that I have heard the argument about definitions, which is a very legal argument, from many people, but I have never heard it from a lawyer. I have never heard a lawyer make that case because of course that case is not a relevant legal case, I would argue.
Then there is what I think is a more insidious kind of argument and very demeaning. It is the bathroom argument, the default-to- disaster argument. We heard that with respect to many of the gay rights debates and certainly with gay marriage. Somehow that was going to ruin the family, ruin heterosexual marriage, ruin children. I was at a lunch today with my staff and we were talking about that. Some studies that have been done go back to people who were opposed to gay marriage and they have been asked, “So did it make a difference, did it hurt your life?” “No, not at all,” they say. “I do not think about it anymore.” It has been so integrated into society. Even the United States, where there was such resistance, is beginning to accept gay marriage.
Far from harming anyone who is not gay, it has probably enriched us all because we are a more accepting, tolerant, understanding society because we have this now. It has also made a number of people, many thousands of Canadians, much happier than they otherwise could have been because they can realize who they are. There can probably be no worse situation in day-to-day life in a society like ours than having to live a lie, being afraid to establish, to come out and be who you are because someone will brutalize you for having done that.
Let us go back to the bathroom argument, which says that somehow transgendered people, who do not do it now, will go into a bathroom that is not for people with their assigned gender, will do something inappropriate and will be able to use this law as a way to get out of having done it. In the empirical proof we have, in the case studies of the experiences of U.S. jurisdictions where this exists now, there has not been a single recorded case where an effort has been made to use this to defend untoward, inappropriate behaviour in a bathroom or locker room by someone whose assigned gender does not apply there. Not a single case. In fact, I am not aware of any cases in Canada — because there is some provincial jurisdiction legislation where this kind of protection exists — where that has ever been used.
The empirical proof is that transgendered people are not inclined to do that, and why would we assume that they are going to do something perverse because they are transgender? They are no more or less likely to do that than anyone else in our society. Perhaps it is an analogy — it is hard to find one — but just because White men go into corner stores and rob them does not mean we prohibit all White men from going into corner stores. The fact of the matter is that that is really, in a sense, what we are doing. In the very limited chance that a transgender person would ever exploit this bill — and there is no evidence they would because they never have — to do that, we are holding hostage all transgender people from protections that would make their lives enriched, safer, more secure and more fulfilling. It seems to make no sense to do that.
Another powerful argument for this is a subset of the rights argument: It educates people. It elevates this important issue to a level of credibility in our society that it has not gotten. Without this, in some senses transgender people are very invisible, and they do not deserve to be. They make themselves that way to some extent because they are terrified that they will be exposed and brutalized because of it. One of the powerful elements of this bill is that it is educational and it does not cost any money to get this education.
I know there are some who say this will cost money, but it will not. There may be a few more court cases because of it, but there will be far fewer court cases in criminal court because these people are being beaten up in violent, criminal ways. I would say that the education will be important — the protections in and of themselves are — but it also validates for those young people and for adult transgender people who have never had this level of validation. It educates many people who are remiss in the way they treat transgender people not because they are malicious, but because they do not understand this issue. They do not understand the implications. They do not understand what they are doing because this issue has been hidden and has not been given the prominence this kind of bill will give it.
We were talking again, as I mentioned earlier, but somehow Canadians end up doing these rights things right. They get there eventually, and we will do this. If we do not do it today in a vote or next week in a vote, Canada will do it because it is the right thing to do. I am saying simply, why do we not fast-forward it? Why do not we get past all the toing and froing and just do it? Make lives better, make Canada better and enhance the richness of our society through the enhancement of our understanding and acceptance — I do not want to use the word tolerance — of other people.
We do all kinds of things and discuss all kinds of issues in politics. However, I believe in my heart of hearts that at no time are we more elevated, important and significant in what we do than when we deal with people’s rights, protect the vulnerable, bring minorities into society and reduce alienation. That is when politics is great. That is when it is at its best. To emphasize that point in this context in the Senate, we were established for basically two fundamental reasons, perhaps among several others. One was for protection of minority rights, and the other was protection of regional rights. If ever there was a minority that is distinguished by its size, its characteristics and by the way it is being treated by some elements of our society — brutally and poorly and in a way that we should all be embarrassed and ashamed about — this is a minority. If ever there was a time when the Senate should be acting to fulfill its role to defend minority rights, this is it.
I believe that we can simply embrace that role, do this properly and do it today or within the next several days.
I will finish by saying we are reluctant in this house to turn down particularly government legislation that is supported by a majority of elected government members of Parliament. We are less reticent to turn down legislation that is supported by a majority of MPs who may not be from the government side. Yet, that difference underlines that to some extent we think a government MP is somehow more important than an opposition MP. They are all elected by the people of Canada.
To draw that analysis a bit further, consider that when a government bill is passed with the government voting for it and the opposition voting against it in this configuration now, the current situation, 40 per cent of the popular vote of Canada is represented in that support. However, when this bill was passed, considering the opposition and 18 members of the Conservative government supported it, there is upwards of 65 per cent of the popular support in the last election reflected in that support.
I think we know that there is a good deal of support on that side, on the government side of the Senate. If one puts the support on both sides, it may well be that this bill will pass. This is a moment in time when we could do something really special, very important and fulfill our responsibility for minority rights. It may well be.
Considering that 65 per cent of the popular vote was represented in elected representatives on both sides of the house in the other place who supported this, it is in some sense a betrayal of democracy that we would not even bring it to a vote because arcane Senate rules could allow us to leave that on the leadership, to leave that on the table and never be voted upon.
I simply ask honourable senators to consider and reflect. Why do we not allow it to come to a vote and see what happens? In the end, that will be an initiative that is an extension of the democratic process over there, and it may just be a moment in time when we can do something very special to help enrich the lives of a very important community in our society — a community of Canadians who are our colleagues, family members and often our friends. We can fulfill our obligation to defend minority rights, and we can go home at the end of this month and say we did something very important and special for the people of this country.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Three honourable senators wish to pose questions.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Will the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Mitchell: Yes.
Senator Jaffer: I have seen Senator Mitchell in the last few months working very hard on this issue. I want to thank him for raising the issue here and for bringing a face to the pain that people suffer, especially at committee meetings.
I would like the honourable senator to tell us something. Over the last few weeks especially, he has spent a lot of time with trans people. Can you share with us how they view this? What difference will this bill make in their lives?
Senator Mitchell: That is a very good and powerful question. I wish I had the words to capture the emotional impact that this whole debate has had on the many transgender people and their families, whom I have met and grown to know.
This is a group of people who have felt not just alienated and not just outside, but afraid. Many of them feel afraid most days of their lives. At the same time, it is remarkable that they are very comfortable within their skin when they make the transition. It is quite remarkable when they are in a safe place how they come out and are just very, very much who they are. It is not a question of choice; it is not a question of being able to decide that you did not want to be a transgender person. It is who they are.
Yes, it is a deeply held feeling; it is a deeply held emotion. This bill is profoundly symbolic for them, for what they have been through, for what they fought for for years and years and for what it means to their place in our society — for their elevation to a place, not of equality, but it will be a step along the way.
I wish I could capture the emotional feeling that they have and they convey, but that is the best I can do. It is extremely important at that level.
Senator Jaffer: One thing that came up that has really convinced me that this is the right thing for Canadians to do is what we heard about what happens to children. What really shook me is when we heard testimony that six-year-old children suffer and they are fighting to use the facilities.
Can the honourable senator tell us what his impressions were regarding the suffering of young trans people?
Senator Mitchell: There was the case I mentioned. There was a young girl, in her spirit, in her soul and in her mind. When she came out to her parents, her father said that she was this way because she tripped when she was eight years old and banged her head. You can imagine how that would sound. She knows who she is, and someone is saying it is because she banged her head. It is almost incomprehensible that parents — although none of us are perfect as parents — could do that to a child.
It is true, studies show us, that 60 per cent of transgender children know they are transgender by the time they are 12 years old. Ninety per cent know by the time they are 19 years old, and they suffer grievously.
A huge percentage of transgender children actually receive transphobia attacks from teachers in schools. It is so misunderstood; this condition in life is so misunderstood that even people who care deeply about children can make the mistake of saying things that are very harmful and hurtful. Honourable senators can only imagine a young person realizing that their parents think they are the way they are because they banged their head. It is a terrifying thought.
Just to emphasize what I said earlier, a huge percentage of young people take their lives. It is at least double — and some studies would indicate even more than double — the rate of their non-trans counterparts. Studies also indicate that when families accept and they feel accepted, this condition, this depression and the tendency or the likelihood of committing suicide are vastly reduced.
We can truly help this. This is one place where we can truly help a very important segment of our society.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I think the chamber needs to at least understand how the committee dealt with the bill. First is the definition that we have in the bill, first for the law and then for the Criminal Code. I want to hear from Senator Mitchell, as the sponsor of the bill, because it is the first occasion that we have: Did the honourable senator address that question? Did he look into the clarity of that definition? What is the advice he can give the chamber on that clarity, because that is one of the arguments against the bill?
Senator Mitchell: I did read it before, and I will read it again just to give honourable senators an idea as a partial answer to the question. As I say, the bill hinges on the concept of gender identity, which it clearly defines.
In this clause, “gender identity” means, in respect of an individual, the individual’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex that the individual was assigned at birth.
There has been a great deal of strength behind this definition legally because there has been experience with it in other jurisdictions in the world and also in provincial jurisdictions in human rights tribunal processes. It is not in any way a questionable definition, and it has been backed up strongly; in fact, these words largely reflect the Canadian Psychological Association’s specification of this definition.
As I have said — and I am not a lawyer — I believe that putting this definition in the act as it would be would actually enhance and clarify questions of definition. It would not be vague or vaguer by any means; it would be more specific.
Senator Nolin: I need to ask the question. I understand not being a lawyer, but the honourable senator can consider the importance of the jurisprudence from the Supreme Court. Has the honourable senator heard in the committee lawyers explaining? It was important for the committee to convince themselves that it is not only a question of being a distinction, but that distinction becoming a discrimination, so becoming illegal. The honourable senator needs to convince on the various tests that the Supreme Court decided over the years to apply. Has the honourable senator looked into that, and what are the answers?
Senator Mitchell: I have certainly read the testimony, but being that I am not a lawyer, I am not sure how much I can offer in that, except to say that the court has been very careful in the way it has tested these definitions. This definition does not come from a vacuum; it has been very clearly thought out by many legal minds and by others, as I say — medical and other minds, like psychologists. I wish I had the legal expertise to be more definitive.
Senator Nolin: It is not really on the definition. Now that we understand the definition is clear for the experts, because it is in the minds of those people, so that is why it is quite difficult. However, if the honourable senator has heard witnesses convincing the committee that it was clear, that is fine with me.
Now we need to look at the test of why such an attitude becomes a ground for discrimination. The court decided to apply a test to that. That is why. It is not really the definition. Now that set of facts, to become a ground for discrimination, needs to be looked at with a legal mind, otherwise it is bad or unfair, but it is not discrimination.
Does the honourable senator understand? That is why I was asking that question, asking if he has any advice to give the chamber to convince us that, yes, it should be a ground for discrimination and that we should legislate to make that attitude illegal.
Senator Mitchell: Clearly the progression of this process mimics and reflects what has been the progression for many questions of discrimination. Fifty years ago we did not view discrimination in the way we do now. Legal thought, social thought and society’s thoughts have developed that. How do you define an element or a characteristic as having the potential for inclusion in this bill when other elements are not necessarily included? Is that the gist of your question?
All I can say is there are parallels between sexual orientation and this in a number of ways. In many respects they have had the same kind of social stigma, unfortunate as it is, which is part of a definition. It would seem to me that a further step in defining something as worthy of definition for discrimination is that it is an element about who you are that you cannot legitimately be expected to change. In many cases, you should not be legitimately expected to change.
In this case it is clear, like sexual orientation: You do not choose that, and you do not choose to be transgender. You just are; it is just who you are. In our society, the fundamental basis of human rights, anti-discrimination legislation and policy, and all the things we believe in in that regard, is that we need to respect the rights of a human being. If ever there was a right that is clearly defined by discrimination in our society, as I said in my earlier comments, this would be one. The parallels are very apparent with sexual orientation, and they are quite apparent with sex. They are not as apparent in some senses with religion except to the extent that the subjectivity of definition argument applies in both cases.
Senator Nolin: I think you covered the first test quite properly. It definitely creates a prejudice to those people, those who fit into that definition or are disadvantaged.
The more problematic test is what the Supreme Court called the essential, and I have it here in French.
To be discriminatory, a distinction or differential treatment must affect an important component of what constitutes essential human dignity and freedom.
That is quite difficult to meet. That is why I was asking. I was coming to that. You heard those witnesses, but you need to tell us that you have covered that and you are convinced that it is affecting the human dignity as an essential understanding. Some people can live a life suffering disadvantage but they can live with it, but we have to be convinced that we can no longer accept that. That is why it needs to become illegal, because it is affecting an essential component of their life. It is a breach of the fundamental equality principle of the Charter. That is why it is important that the test be met.
Senator Mitchell: I see. Thank you. If you have not already been one, you would be a great law professor. Thank you for giving me the chance to emphasize that.
Honourable senators, it is very, very clear that the nature of the discrimination and the nature of the attacks, verbal and physical, absolutely confront people’s dignity. You can see it, you know it, and you feel it when you talk to them, but you can imagine it as well. There is a myriad of cases where people are not hired and they know it is because they are transgendered. That is an affront to their dignity. There is a myriad of cases where they receive very aggressive negative comments in the street, in schools, in the playground and in their families. These are very specific attacks that of course would offend someone’s dignity. It is the definition of this discrimination, its core essence, that makes it so pernicious because it attacks dignity.
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Honourable senators, I certainly agree with Senator Mitchell that it is offensive for bullying to happen. I was quite clear on that when I spoke in the chamber on this some days ago. However, I still have some problems. I wish to ask a question of the honourable senator.
The proposed definition of gender identity is not specific to transgendered people. It encompasses a range of gender identities such as gender-fluid or agender, and I listed a number of others the other day. Does the honourable senator feel it could be problematic to ensure that a person does not feel discriminated against based on gender identity, when that identity is defined as not having a gender at all?
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, it is an interesting phenomenon. I thank Senator Plett very much, and I know he is arguing this from a place of genuine concern. I listened to his speech carefully, and I understand the honourable senator is sincere about this.
I have been told but I have not confirmed that in Iran, of all places, on your driver’s licence there is “male,” “female” and “other.” If someone feels they do not have a gender, who are we to make a judgment on that? Why does it matter what I think of that? Why would it matter? Why would I care? It is theirs, it is deeply personal and it does not make any difference to my life if they want to believe they do not have a gender, and they do believe it and the courts can establish that. Personally, I have never met anyone like that and I am not sure it is particularly widespread. We can default to all kinds of disaster arguments and fear arguments but, really and truly, there are people who clearly fall into this category.
The honourable senator is really talking about gender expression, which is further, which we all have. The people in this room express their gender in certain ways. There is no doubt about that. The fact is that gender expression was taken out — although I would say it would add greater clarification — by some people who would support gender identity. One of them was MP Glover, who has worked in the police environment with this a great deal. It was taken out because gender identity was seen to be more specific.
Yes, I have been referring to transgender because it was probably the largest group and it is a group that in this context, without getting into detail and getting so far in the weeds that we do not have enough time to debate it, captures other people with gender identity issues that would fall under this bill as well.
Senator Plett: With regard to gender-fluid, I received an email a couple of days ago, and I believe Senator Mitchell’s name was on the list of people who received that email. The email identifies an individual who says that he or she, depending on what day of the week it is, identifies as a male five days a week and as a female two days a week. I am not sure whether that is on a regular basis, however.
We have a situation here with someone who is a male five days a week, a female two days a week. You used the illustration of the six-year-old. Let me go further with that. I think it is horrendous that a father would do something like that to his six-year-old.
As I said in my speech, we had a case of a six-year-old who was exposed to an adult male who said he was transgendered; he was exposing himself, and the honourable senator said there was no indication of people assaulting individuals. I was very clear in my speech; I did not call it the bathroom bill, and I do not believe it is a bathroom bill. I was very clear on the fact that I did not accuse anyone of assaulting someone. However, when a six-year old girl is exposed to an adult male lying nude in a sauna, does the honourable senator not believe that that can have devastating effects on the mind of a six-year-old when she sees something like that? In this particular case, when they asked the individual to leave, they had to apologize later on because he was discriminated against.
Senator Mitchell: We have no proof at all that that is in fact what occurred. An email outlining that certainly does not indicate those were the facts of the case or that the case was ruled in that way. We also do not know if that person was transgendered. That person might well have been perverted and not transgendered at all.
The fact is that many heterosexuals have engaged in inappropriate sexual behaviour with young children. We do not expect that all other heterosexuals should be allowed to be discriminated against because of that. I am saying that if that behaviour occurs, and has occurred, and that case has occurred, it occurred before this bill, it occurred in spite of this bill, so that is not an argument against this bill. In fact there is no evidence in that case that this bill was used to defend the behaviour. If it was it was wrong, and the courts would have found that out.
I simply believe that one cannot hold hostage as many as 170,000 or 200,000 people in Canada, many of whom suffer every day from a young age because of the anecdotal behaviour of one or two cases that they are not responsible for. We will not affect or change the behaviour of that person, or one like him in the future, but we will protect 200,000 other people whose lives have been greatly diminished because they do not have that kind of protection.
Senator Plett: Of course, in his answer, the honourable senator argued against himself. He said that this may not have been a transgendered person; it may have just been a pervert, and I agree with him. However, this bill will allow perverts to take advantage of the law, which is a problem I have.
Nevertheless, I will not ask any more questions. I believe that Senator Nancy Ruth wants to say a few words, and then I would like to adjourn the debate.
Hon. Nancy Ruth: Honourable senators, Senator Mitchell started his comments by saying that this bill was for the protection of the vulnerable and for the protection of a minority. My concern is also for the protection of the vulnerable, that is, women in Canada and they are a majority.
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.” 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.
Motion in Amendment
Hon. Nancy Ruth: Therefore, honourable senators, I move:
That Bill C-279 be not now read a third time but that it be amended, in clause 3, on page 2, by replacing lines 26 and 27 with the following:
“ethnic origin, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.”.
(On motion of Senator Plett, debate adjourned.)