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This article was published 27/10/2016 (1861 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — Manitoba Conservative MP Ted Falk says the federal government is trying to fix a non-existent problem with legislation that protects gender identity and expression under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.
During a justice committee meeting studying Bill C-16 Tuesday, Falk said instead of using studies and research to prove existing laws aren’t good enough, the government brought in the law because of "people that have been effective in their advocacy."
"My point is I believe strongly that when we make decisions in government it should be evidence-(based) and fact-based," Falk said in a heated exchange with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. "I see that missing here."
He said the human rights law and the Criminal Code are adequate to prosecute cases of discrimination against transgender people even though they are not explicitly named in either.
' ...Why would you offer one group explicitly, like you're offering people on the basis of sexual orientation and expression, when there are many other minority groups which maybe perhaps also could benefit?' ‐ Manitoba Conservative MP Ted Falk
Deputy justice minister William Pentney said currently, someone would have to make a specific argument that gender identity and expression are included in the broad scope of the human rights law or under the Criminal Code, and it is possible both could be interpreted in a narrow fashion to exclude them.
However, neither Wilson-Raybould nor Pentney could think of a case where that has happened.
Falk demanded Wilson-Raybould produce a study that shows transgender Canadians cannot use existing laws to fight discrimination. When she struggled to remember the full name of one such study she had referenced earlier, and was given the name by committee chairman and Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, Falk scoffed.
"That’s wonderful," he said. "Now we have the chairman helping you out."
Wilson-Raybould’s voice was cold when she responded.
"I’m answering your question, and I would ask for the respect to hear the response," she said.
"I don’t understand where this acrimony is coming from. I was answering your question. I’m sorry I didn’t remember the name of the study off the top of my head."
"OK, I accept that," Falk replied.
The Provencher MP maintains the Liberal government has been swayed by emotion rather than evidence.
"I want to state that I’m against discrimination as well but there are many minority groups with a much larger representation than the trans group people that don’t have that explicitly in legislation today, and why would you offer one group explicitly, like you’re offering people on the basis of sexual orientation and expression, when there are many other minority groups which maybe perhaps also could benefit?" he asked.
Wilson-Raybould looked surprised and said she would love it if Falk could tell her what other groups he was talking about because she would like to ensure all groups feel protected.
She said the size of a group needing protection is irrelevant.
"Human rights are human rights, and we need to ensure whether it’s a small group of people or a large group of people, that we provide protection for those individuals," she said.
Falk did not offer Wilson-Raybould any examples of who he was referring to, and his office did not respond to a question about the matter Thursday.
In July, Falk was criticized for refusing to attend the gay pride parade in Steinbach in his riding.
He initially said he had a scheduling conflict but later said he wouldn’t go even if he didn’t have a conflict because his values and faith do not allow it.