The recent resignation announcement by Conservative Member of Parliament Peter MacKay gives us the opportunity to elect a representative in Ottawa from Central Nova to be more in tune with equality for all constituents. The credibility of a politician is at stake if equal treatment and rights are not part of his or her agenda.
To be sure, Central Nova is not the only riding that has an MP who does not seem to support the notion that all Canadians deserve to be treated on an equal basis with respect and accept them as contributing members of our population. The MP from Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Scott Armstrong, also has voted against a bill that would provide equal protection for transgender people in this country.
Out of 159 Conservative MPs only 18 voted to supported Bill C-279, Including John Baird, James Moore, Gerald Keddy and the late Jim Flaherty. Stephen Harper was the only leader to vote against this bill to protect transgender people under the Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.
This has been a long and difficult rejection of the LGBTQ community in Canada, even with changes in the laws over the past number of years. The Harper government and indeed Mr. Harper himself are not taking these matters seriously. There are numerous issues of equality matters on the table that need urgent attention such as the Truth and Reconciliation Report just released. The fact Mr. Harper attended the closing ceremonies at Rideau Hall does not mean he will address the recommendation before the October election.
So it is with the transgender bills that have passed through Parliament, but died in the Senate. The government has ignored this and Harper no doubt does not wish to tackle this again before the election. If this government is so against equal treatment for LGBTQ citizens, and historically we know that this government, including Peter MacKay and Stephen Harper, also rejected the new marriage bill that would include same-sex marriage, the notion that there will be a sudden surge in changing of minds is a non-starter.
The October election gives us the opportunity to approach candidates from all parties and inquire where they stand on these issues. We must drill the candidates and get them to express their intentions should a new transgender bill be introduced again in the Canadian Parliament. We are already aware that the vast majority of Conservative MPs are not on side and some from other parties also need to pay attention to the minorities in this country. It has to do with treating all in the same manner, equally and sincerely. The party in power must represent ALL Canadians.
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Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.