Senator Don Plett has urged his colleagues to do a “thorough and rigorous vetting process” on the transgender Bill C-16. Photo courtesy of Senator Bill Plett

Senator urges ‘vetting’ of transgender Bill C-16

  • December 2, 2016

OTTAWA – Despite calls for a “thorough and vigorous vetting,” Canada’s Transgender Bill C-16 was given high praise as debate began on the legislation in the Senate on Nov. 28.

All five senators who spoke during first day of debate lent their support to the bill that would add gender identity and expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

Senator Don Plett, expected to raise concerns about the bill, has urged his colleagues to do a “thorough and rigorous vetting process” of the legislation that passed the House of Commons without a recorded vote on Nov. 18.

In the Senate, Senators Mike Duffy and Senator Mobina Jaffer cited examples of children who believe they are a different gender than their biological sex, asserting the legislation will protect them and give relief to their parents.

Conservative Senator Grant Mitchell took aim at those who decried the subjective nature of gender identity.

“There is also the argument that transgender identity is too subjective a concept to be enshrined in law because it is defined as an individual’s deeply felt internal experience of gender,” he said. “Yet we, of course, accept outright that no one can discriminate on the basis of religion, and that too is clearly a very deeply subjective and personal feeling,” he said.

Mitchell defined “diversity, inclusion, acceptance and understanding” as “core Canadian values.”

“And yet, in what we all hold to be a remarkably open and inclusive society, transgender people face an extreme level of exclusion, discrimination, prejudice and violence,” Mitchell said.

The debate was adjourned and could resume within15 days, as long as there are Senators wishing to be heard.

In a Nov. 21 statement to the Senate, Plett noted Bill C-16 passed the House Justice Committee with no public hearings.

“Political correctness authoritarians have narrowed the scope of acceptable thought and discourse in terms of academia, and by extension the general public,” Plett said.

Similar provincial legislation such as the Ontario Human Rights Act is interpreted by the Ontario Human Rights Commission to mean it would be discriminatory in places of employment or education to not use the pronoun adopted by a transgender person.

“Legislation that has serious implications on freedom of speech, and for the first time in Canadian law, compelled speech, cannot be passed so flippantly without thorough public discourse, debate and consideration,” Plett said.

Plett cited the example of University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson, who has refused to use gender-neutral pronouns, and warns that compelling people to use terminology that violates their conscience is a hallmark of totalitarian regimes.

“I challenge my colleagues to not be silenced by baseless character assassination; to not be silenced by those who want to throw out labels of bigotry and new phobias dreamt up (every other week) in social science departments, in order to silence dissent,” Plett said.

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