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Results: 1 - 15 of 143
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, here we are in National Blood Donor Week, again, with the ban on blood donations from gay men, men who have sex with men, and trans women still in place. As always, I continue to call on friends and family to step up and donate in the place of those of us who remain banned.
On Friday, the Liberals lost in federal court in their attempt to have themselves excluded from responsibility for the ban. The Minister of Health claims she is waiting for Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec to give her a recommendation to lift the ban.
On what date did she explicitly request a new policy from CBS and Héma-Québec, and what deadline did she give them for a response?
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, members of the Canadian Armed Forces strive every day to uphold the highest standards when it comes to military conduct and Canadians trust that they will always do so. However, we have seen repeated failures of senior leaders to uphold those same standards whether we are talking about sexual misconduct, the torture of detainees transferred into local custody in Afghanistan, or now the failure to report possible war crimes by Iraqi troops that Canadians were supposed to be training.
Will the Minister of National Defence break this pattern of looking the other way when it comes to human rights violations, and will he now order an independent inquiry into the failure to report possible war crimes in both Iraq and Afghanistan?
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I cannot let another speech that grossly misrepresents Bill C-6 go by without commenting.
The speech by the hon. member does so in two ways. First, it equates conversations with practice, treatment or service. There is no reason for such an equation. There is no case in law that he could cite in which a conversation is treated as a practice, treatment or service.
The second way it misrepresents the definition in the bill is that it tries to create a division between someone's sexual orientation or gender identity and the way they live their lives: the way they behave. If the member would like to talk to clinicians, they can talk to him about how repression of sexual orientation and repression of gender identity have been fundamental parts of conversion therapy over time.
This really is a misrepresentation of the bill. I will not speculate on the member's motives.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, the bill we are talking about has one of the important symbolic things that I believe we can do, and that is to add a reference to aboriginal rights to the citizenship oath. As someone who took my oath 44 years ago, it was a very important day in my life when I took that oath. As someone who was given the opportunity to reaffirm that oath two years ago by a citizenship judge who took me by surprise at a ceremony, I am very much in support of this bill. I want to keep the focus on aboriginal people and aboriginal rights today, so I will not take up my arguments with the Bloc about its members' obtuseness.
However, today we have the Conservatives saying they support UNDRIP, but not the wording. We also have many Conservatives saying they support conversion therapy legislation, but not the wording. Now we have a case of the Bloc members saying they support adding aboriginal rights to the citizenship oath, but not the wording.
Is it not part of democracy to give and take on the wording, so we can get to a place where we can all agree on the principle of what we are actually dealing with?
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, while I normally have a good relationship with the member for South Surrey—White Rock, I am disappointed with her remarks today.
I want to draw her attention to the “for greater certainty” clause that was added to the definition in proposed section 320.101. It states, “For greater certainty, this definition does not include a practice, treatment or service that relates to the exploration and development of an integrated personal identity without favouring any particular sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”
How is this a vague definition that would somehow prevent counsellors from talking to kids about sexual orientation and sexual identity? It simply says that providing a supportive and affirming conversation is not covered by this bill.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I am very happy to be speaking to Bill C-6 today, finally. Here we are more than a year after its introduction with the final version of Bill C-6 before the House for a final debate and vote. That is more than one year longer that this hateful and harmful practice has been allowed to go on.
Hopefully the fact that the bill has been before the House for debate has helped shine a light on the dark places where this so-called therapy takes place, as this is one practice that cannot stand much light. In the interim, many provinces and local governments have enacted bans of their own.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I will start over, assuming the clock has been stopped.
I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-6 today, finally. Here we are more than a year after its introduction with the final version of Bill C-6 before the House for a final debate and vote. That is more than one more year longer that this hateful and harmful practice has been allowed to go on.
Hopefully the fact that this bill has been before the House for debate has helped shine a light on the dark places where this so-called therapy takes place, as this is one practice that cannot stand much light. In the interim, many provinces and local governments have enacted bans of their own.
Hopefully this debate will conclude today so we can proceed quickly to a vote and send the bill to that other place, even though the other place has an unfortunate history of killing bills about sexual orientation and gender identity through delay.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. NDP whip for reminding me that I have to ask for consent to share my time with the member for North Island—Powell River.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, conversion therapy has been found by all experts to be fraudulent and harmful. It is not sanctioned by any professional organization and many Canadians are surprised this practice still goes on in Canada. However, we heard powerful testimony at the justice committee, documenting the fact that conversion therapy still took place in both what I would call its traditional form, focusing on sexual orientation, and in a new form that argues that those who are transgender, non-binary or gender diverse ought to be talked out of their personal identity.
The New Democrats and almost all members of the SOGI community have long been calling for a complete ban on conversion therapy in all its forms. What we have before us, after amendments at the committee, is a bill that comes close to a complete ban, as close as possible without actually being one.
The Minister of Justice has repeatedly said that the reason for not going ahead with a complete ban is his fear that it would not survive a charter challenge on the basis that it would restrict the rights of consenting adults to freely choose to subject themselves to conversion therapy.
There is an alternative argument that says a complete ban would indeed likely survive a charter challenge because there are strong legal precedents that argue that no one can actually consent to being defrauded or injured. The clearest parallel in the Criminal Code is the case of fight clubs, which remain illegal, as one cannot consent, no matter how freely, to being physically injured. Therefore, if the evidence is undeniable that conversion therapy is inherently fraudulent and harmful, the same legal principles should apply.
What is banned in Bill C-7? The strongest provision in the bill is a complete ban for minors, including the offence of transporting a minor outside the country to undergo conversion therapy, which is a much more common practice than most Canadians would assume.
Growing up in a society that remains heteronormative and intolerant of any challenges to the binary cisgender norms is challenging enough for queer youth without ending up being pressured into therapy whose goal is to get them to deny who they actually are.
Though Bill C-6 does not institute a complete ban on conversion therapy, it will establish an effective ban on the practice as it prohibits generally what might be called the business practices around conversion therapy. This means there will be a ban on charging for, or profiting from conversion therapy and a ban on paid or unpaid advertising of conversion therapy.
Working together at committee, we did strengthen Bill C-6, although the Conservatives are acting like no amendments actually took place at committee. One of the most important improvements was to alter the original language in Bill C-6, which proposed banning conversion therapy “against a person's will”. This was vague language with no parallel elsewhere in the Criminal Code of which I know. My amendment was adopted to change this language to a ban on conversion therapy “without consent”.
Using the language of without consent clearly situates the ban on conversion therapy within the well-understood and well-developed Canadian jurisprudence on what does and does not constitute consent. I was disappointed that a second amendment, which sought to spell out the specific limitations on consent that would apply in the case of conversion therapy, was defeated. The testimony we heard from survivors about the kinds of duress they were almost universally under to subject themselves to conversion therapy would clearly obviate any claim of consent.
The second important improvement made at the justice committee was to expand the scope of the definition of conversion therapy to include gender identity and gender expression. This makes the language in Bill C-6 consistent with our existing human rights legislation and the hate crimes section of the Criminal Code as amended by Bill C-16. This is important as the new forms of conversion therapy I mentioned are directed at transgender and gender diverse individuals and at the attempt to get them to deny their gender identity under the guise of helping individuals “adjust”.
A third change to Bill C-6 made at committee was to add to the definition of what was in effect a for greater certainty clause stating what was not covered in the ban, something the Conservatives say they wanted and something they are certainly ignoring as it is now in the bill.
Bill C-6 now makes clear that it does not ban good faith counselling. Let me cite the specific definition again, as I did in my question earlier, as it could not be more clear. This definition “does not include a practice, treatment or service that relates to the exploration and development of an integrated personal identity without favouring any particular sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” That is specifically in the bill.
Opponents of Bill C-6 continue to insist that the bill will somehow prevent conversations between parents and children or pastors and their faithful on the topics of sexual orientation or gender identity. There is no truth to this claim. The only way these conversations could be captured is if, in fact, they were part of a sustained effort to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity that constitutes a practice or service under the bill. It would be a giant stretch to characterize efforts of parents or pastors to “try to talk their kids out of it” as a practice, service or therapy.
The vehemence of the debate on Bill C-6 around gender identity certainly reflects the fact that trans and gender-diverse Canadians face the highest levels of discrimination of any group in Canada. That discrimination results in high levels of unemployment, difficulties in accessing housing and high levels of violence, including the murder of two transgender Canadians in the last year alone, just for being trans.
During hearings in committee there was a wave of hatred expressed toward me as an individual on social media, which showed me the level of hostility generally toward trans and gender-diverse people in our country. The insults thrown at me ranged from interfering with parental rights to supporting mutilation of children and, most absurdly, being in the pay of big pharma, apparently because transitioning involves hormones. That is a particularly ill-informed charge against someone who has fought all my time in public life for reducing the power of pharmaceutical companies through shorter patents, expanded use of generics, bulk-buying to bring down costs and, ultimately, the establishment of universal pharmacare.
Those insults also included direct threats of violence directed at me, but, again, I remind myself that the hatred I saw, and will inevitably see again after this speech today, provided only a small glimpse into what transgender and gender-diverse Canadians face every day of their lives.
Many of those objecting to the bill have used what I call a “false detransitioning narrative”. To be clear, I am not rejecting the validity of the stories of individuals who may have chosen to detransition, but opponents of Bill C-6 have adopted those stories to construct a false narrative about the number who choose to detransition and their reasons for doing so. Professional, peer-reviewed studies from the U.K. and Scandinavia tell us that very few transgender people actually later detransition. Both major studies cite a number of fewer than five in 1,000 who detransition, and, even more interesting, both studies report that most of them say they detransitioned not because it was not right for them, but because they did not get support from family, friends and the community they live and work in.
The implication by critics seems to be that there is something in this bill that would prevent counselling concerning detransition, when this is absolutely not the case. Using the detransition narrative to detract Bill C-6 is false, in that I am pretty sure this argument often actually has nothing to do with the ban on conversion therapy being proposed; it is an argument about the very validity of transgender Canadians.
Let me say that I find these arguments against the bill, and being at my most charitable, are at a minimum parallel, if not identical, to those that continue to cause harm to trans and gender-diverse Canadians, and they indicate why we need this ban. At some point, some might ask why have a bill at all, when CT is universally condemned as fraudulent and harmful. Again, as many members have pointed out, studies show that literally tens of thousands of Canadians have been subjected to this practice.
It is important to listen to the voices of survivors of conversion therapy; only then can we understand the need for this bill. Once again, I want to extend personal thanks to two survivors, Erika Muse and Matt Ashcroft, who spent a lot of time with me trying to give me a better understanding of the horrors they faced and their own challenging roads to recovery.
On a personal note, let me say again that I have seen progress in my lifetime for some in the sexual orientation and gender identity community, but we have a much longer road to follow when it comes to those who are transgender and gender-diverse. What a ban of conversion therapy really says is this: we know it is impossible to change someone's sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and trying to change or repress one's identity is harmful. Let's stop literally torturing young Canadians for being who they are. Let's put an end—
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I could not agree with the member more. I thank her, since I ran out of time in my speech, for drawing the parallel to what happened at residential schools. I, of course, share the horror and the need for us to act resolutely on the news that we heard from Kamloops this week.
All the professional studies show that conversion therapy results in depression, self-harm, suicide attempts and many actual deaths by suicide. There is no science behind this practice, there is no reason to continue to call it therapy and that is one of the reasons it should be banned.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, this question from a Conservative is a good example of what Conservatives are doing here. They continually try to muddy the waters by talking about terms and definitions.
It is very clear what this bill aims to ban, and that is sustained efforts to get someone to change or repress their sexual orientation and gender identity. There is no doubt about the purpose of this bill. There is no doubt about what is covered in this bill.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her kind words.
The very fact that so-called conversion therapy is allowed to go on in the country contributes to homophobia, transphobia, biphobia and the very struggles that people face each and every day because it says that they are somehow illegitimate and should change. Making that very clear definition that, as Canadians, we accept people for who they are and we do not try to get them to deny their identity would be an important step forward in combatting homophobia and transphobia.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I hope the hon. members are aware that the British case they have been citing is under appeal and is not settled law in Britain.
My question is for the member. If he is opposed to attempts at conversion therapy, why does he think that trying to repress someone's identity or repress their sexual orientation is an acceptable behaviour?
Where does he find anything in this bill, after it was amended, that would prevent conversations affirming people's choices?
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I have probably never heard a more misleading speech on a piece of legislation in the House.
I wonder why the member continually, deliberately misreads the legislation. For instance, when she says that individuals cannot talk about promoting conversion therapy, the legislation says quite specifically that what is prohibited is promotion of an offer to provide conversion therapy. It says nothing about individual conversations. When the member says that it provides only one kind of counselling, the bill does exactly the opposite. The bill says very specifically that counselling should be offered without prejudging a sexual orientation or gender identity.
Why does the member persist in misleading the public about what is actually in this legislation?
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I respect that the member has introduced this bill out of a clarity of conscience of her own. It always distresses me when we distort the law on medical assistance in dying by calling it assisted suicide, since people must have a terminal condition before they can even be considered eligible. When the member refers to people being required to refer, what she is referring to are the professional standards set by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in most provinces.
Is she saying that we should take away the ability of doctors and nurses to regulate their own professions and substitute her judgment in her bill for that of professional associations?
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