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Results: 1 - 15 of 184
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair and members of the committee, I would like to start by acknowledging that I am joining you from Waterloo, Ontario, the traditional territory of the Anishinabe, Haudenosaunee, and Neutral people.
Thank you for inviting me to appear before you to discuss Bill C-6 alongside my colleague, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
Conversion therapy practices are based on the misguided idea that a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression can and should be changed to fit a narrow-minded view of what is normal.
This idea is not only wrong, but harmful, and this kind of practice has no place in our society.
The Government of Canada must always stand up for those who are being attacked or persecuted simply for being who they are, and for those who are being prevented from living their lives fully, free from discrimination and violence. It is our duty to protect the rights and freedoms of all Canadians, and to build a country where everyone feels safe, welcome, and included.
Promoting, protecting and increasing diversity and inclusion in Canada are fundamental parts of my mandate as Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth. I am fully committed to these objectives and to supporting LGBTQ2 communities from coast to coast to coast.
The changes to the Criminal Code proposed in Bill C-6 support and protect LGBTQ2 individuals by criminalizing coercive and systematic efforts to change a person's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression into something or someone they are not.
There have been some comments about what this bill would or wouldn't do. I want to be absolutely clear. This bill does not criminalize a person's faith or individual values. This bill does not criminalize exploratory conversations with your kids, students or mentees. This bill targets forced and coordinated efforts to change someone into something or someone they are not.
Bill C-6 also allows us to protect equality rights, including religion and LGBTQ2 rights. The bill does not impose a hierarchy of rights.
Over the past year, I've participated in a number of round table discussions with stakeholders about LGBTQ2 issues. These once in-person conversations have become virtual. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world. All Canadians have been affected, and disproportionately certain segments. LGBTQ2 communities are no exception.
Through these discussions, I've heard clearly the toll imposed by conversion therapy. The thought of another generation having to endure conversion therapy crushes my soul. It is essential that we acknowledge the people whose lives have been lost, as well as survivors. I cannot help but also think of the lives still currently being destroyed.
We all have a role to play in building an even better, safer and consciously more inclusive Canada for everyone. We can all work to build a better future, where children, who arrive in this world innocent, free and happy, are not taught bigotry or to be ashamed of who they are. Imagine a Canada where every Canadian can lead an authentic life and be true to oneself. Imagine the contributions they could make.
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of announcing that we had taken a first step towards the very first federal LGBTQ2 action plan with the launch of a federal LGBTQ2 survey. The survey can be accessed until February 28 and will focus on our government's work to improve social, health and economic outcomes in diverse LGBTQ2 communities everywhere in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau often says that in Canada diversity is one of our greatest strengths. The unique and diverse forms of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation are part of that diversity.
I would like to underscore why it is important that we are all coming together constructively today. I want us to be conscious of the human aspect, the individual toll, that is at stake here. This is a reality that many have lived and continue to live in Canada. It is our job as parliamentarians to protect Canadians from this harmful, destructive practice.
Bill C-6 is another step toward true inclusion in Canada. Ridding Canada of conversion therapy is a campaign commitment, and I can personally attest to this being a consistent ask in all round tables I've held with LGBTQ2 communities.
I'd like to thank you for your attention. I look forward to hearing Minister Lametti's comments and then answering your comments and questions.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, through you to the member, thank you so much for that question.
I'm very confident. When we set out to have these conversations, I was not the minister at that time, so this work has continued over a series of two mandates.
Since I became Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, we've taken some steps that have built upon the work we had historically done. I think it's really important that this work continue to build upon it.
When it comes to the apology, we also had the first-ever special adviser to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues, who was Randy Boissonnault, and since then we've had a full minister at the cabinet table.
In March 2017, to continue engagement with LGBTQ2 communities in Canada, we set up the first LGBTQ2 secretariat. That's why I'm glad to see that my colleague and official Fernand Comeau is here and is building a fabulous team so that we can ensure that we are building back even better and consciously more inclusively.
This legislation builds upon that work, so I'm very confident.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
One of the things I'm proudest of is that this legislation was created by community for community. It is very concerning to me that individuals and Canadians...we're so proud of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but we're still having to undergo this conversion therapy. Experts have proven it to be harmful and destructive.
Conversations exploring who you are are entirely welcome. They're not actually stopped within this legislation. We are always going to encourage those conversations.
Among other stuff we've done, we've seen the blood ban go down to three months. We have, however, invested in research, working through Héma-Québec as well as Canadian Blood Services, because we want to see that blood ban lifted. We've offered a series of other programs and services, including the LGBTQ2 capacity fund. We were pleased to see some of those announcements made. We'll continue building upon that work.
Thank you for those great questions.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
I would like to thank the member, through the chair, not only for his comments and his question, but also for his advocacy and the fact that we are now debating this legislation at committee in part because of the foundation that he laid.
When it comes to the conversation around conversion therapy, as has been stated tonight, I would agree that most Canadians agree it does not belong in Canada. That's why it's important that the committee do its important work to make sure that the legislation is correct. I would echo Minister Lametti's comments that if there are things we believe we have covered that have not been covered, this is what we would like brought to our attention. I would think that communities have expressed clearly that that's not out for the conversation. We know it needs to be banned. It does not belong in Canada.
The purpose of the survey is about additional engagements, as to what communities are expecting and how we advance. This is building upon the work we've already done with the round tables we've already held, to make sure our government is responding to communities and proactively ensuring we're building back even better and consciously more inclusively. That's also why Fernand is joining me today. The secretariat is engaging with every single department and agency. Our government—
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, through you, Madam Chair, to the member for the question.
I would like to begin by saying that I was very pleased to see that every single member of this committee, from every single party, voted in favour of Bill C-6 in the House, and having it sent to committee. I'm hopeful that we will continue to work together to send this bill back to the House in short order. What this shows is that we all agree that any systematic effort to change someone's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, in particular that of a child, is unacceptable in our communities and should be criminalized.
The bill we have here does exactly that, and lays the foundation for the elimination of this harmful and destructive practice in our country. I know there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to getting LGBTQ2 Canadians to a place where they can live out their lives freely, like most Canadians do, without the threat of violence or discrimination. As the minister responsible for inclusion, and as an ally, I will continue to work with LGBTQ2 communities and lead our government's commitment to stand up for LGBTQ2 rights. LGBTQ2 rights are human rights.
I would say in a short answer to the member that I'm very confident that this is an essential step to building a consciously inclusive Canada.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
The way I look at this, and based on the conversations I've had, in Canada I want all individuals to be their authentic selves and to be contributing members of society. I want individuals to be proud of who they are. Unfortunately, with the practice of conversation therapy, that is not the case.
The way I see this legislation is that if an individual is looking to explore their identity and discover who they are, and you're helping them on that journey in a supportive way, it's entirely acceptable. If an individual is looking to explore their identity and who they are, and you are forcing them to be something or someone they are not, it is unacceptable and does not belong in Canada.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Consenting adults who want to are not.... They will get to make their choices as adults. What I think we are trying to get to is allowing every individual to be proud of who they are. An individual usually is trying to satisfy those around them, and therefore is considering conversion therapy because they think they can change who they are, but you are who you are, and you are absolutely perfect the way you are.
I think my morals and my values actually are about lifting individuals to be their true selves in every single quality and every single expression they provide. For people who are having the conversation on their morals, I think those are individual conversations, and that's why we are making sure that all rights are being protected, including LGBTQ2 rights.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
That's what the action plan and survey are all about. They are opportunities to contribute, for us to....
What I have gained from my conversations with members of communities is that there are certain harms that we're not going to be able to undo, but we need to try and we need to make sure that the next generation does not have to undergo this. That's why we will continue consulting and working with communities. This legislation was informed and developed by communities. That's why I think it is quite powerful.
I once again will thank Minister Lametti for actually recognizing the discrepancy between this and Bill C-16 from a former government and for making sure that we do include that. Yes, let's work together to make sure that we are consciously building inclusivity in Canada.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes, and I have one here with me, so I can read that into the record.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
I, Bardish Chagger, do solemnly swear that the testimony I am about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, members of the committee, Canadians, I appreciate your inviting me today to appear before you. With me is my senior associate deputy minister, Gina Wilson. I will refer to her as my deputy.
We are here, as requested, to provide you with information on the safeguards that have been put in place within the federal government to avoid, mitigate and prevent conflicts of interest. These safeguards apply to the federal government policies on procurement, contracting, grants and contributions, and all other federal spending policies.
I would like to begin by pointing out that the Government of Canada is committed to open and transparent governance. What I mean by that is a government that gives all Canadians broad access to its data and information. Since 2014, the directive on open government has promoted transparency and accountability across all departments.
As Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, I received a very clear mandate letter from the Prime Minister. That letter is available publicly online. It states that, like all of my cabinet colleagues, I am committed to building a government that is transparent, honest and accountable to Canadians; upholds the highest ethical standards; pays close attention to the management of public funds; and exercises the utmost care and prudence in this regard. These values guide me every day in my work. That's true for me, it's true for my colleagues, and I hope we would agree that it is even true for my departmental officials. All the ministers received these guidelines in our mandate letters, and we are all subject to the same laws.
Whatever our role, there are mechanisms in place to guide us. All members of Parliament must comply with the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons. Ministers and parliamentary secretaries must also abide by the regulations and measures set out in the Conflict of Interest Act. Our staff must also meet the high standard of probity and integrity as set out in the “policies for ministers' offices”.
It's in this context that I'm fulfilling the mandate I have been given and that I am passionate about: namely, to build a more open, diverse and inclusive country where all Canadians have an equal opportunity to succeed.
My responsibilities also include policies and programs in support of LGBTQ2 people and youth. It's a broad mandate that involves working with several ministers and departments, particularly Employment and Social Development Canada, Canadian Heritage, Women and Gender Equality Canada, Health Canada, Public Safety Canada and Justice Canada.
Public servants in all these departments are also bound by strict rules of integrity. They must all comply with the public service values and ethics code for the public sector. The public servants at Employment and Social Development Canada who support me through, among other things, the Canada Service Corps program. are governed by this code as are all the staff at Canadian Heritage who support me in the delivery of programs to promote multiculturalism and fight racism. They all receive training in this area. As well, employees involved in the delivery of transfer payment programs receive additional training to help them identify and deal with potential conflicts of interest. It's also important to note that all Canadian individuals and organizations applying for funding are required to disclose any potential conflicts of interest at the time of application.
The distribution of financial support is governed by the Financial Administration Act and the federal government, as a whole, is governed by the oversight and accountability procedures of the Treasury Board Secretariat. Without naming them all, I would like to single out the policy on financial management, the policy on transfer payments, and the policy on results, evaluation and internal audit.
Unlike how the Conservatives are choosing to portray this, the policy on transfer payments, in particular, allows the government to ensure that these payments are managed in a manner that respects sound stewardship and the highest level of integrity, transparency and accountability. Government programs also have terms and conditions approved by the Treasury Board Secretariat. The anti-racism action plan, for instance, includes terms and conditions to ensure that all organizations have equal access to funding. In this particular case, we are required to publish the program guidelines at least six weeks before the application deadline. There are also guidelines for communicating clearly with funding applicants.
Allow me to touch briefly on a few points that I am sure will be of interest to the committee.
The first is risk management. The Financial Administration Act helps us strike an appropriate balance between the high-risk decisions, which require input from senior management, and those that are more operational. Risk-based decision-making models allow us to assess the risks associated with, among other things, the funding applicant and the activities being considered for funding. They reduce program delivery costs, alleviate the administrative burden and reduce the time it takes to notify recipients.
The second is conflict of interest. I've already touched on the subject, and I'm coming back to it because it's important. Mechanisms are in place in all departments to prevent the risk of bias or conflict of interest. At Canadian Heritage, for example, the decision to approve a grant or contribution is never made by a single individual. In addition to regular internal assessments, they can call on peer reviews or reviews by internal or external committees. Government employees can also work with the office of values and ethics to address any apparent or potential conflict of interest situation. There are requirements to disclose the involvement of former public servants who are subject to the conflict of interest and post-employment guidelines.
The third is internal controls. In addition to government controls such as the policy on government security, several departments have internal control frameworks that outline financial management roles and responsibilities. These frameworks are designed to provide reasonable assurance that public resources are used prudently and that financial management processes are effective and efficient.
The fourth is transparency and accountability. Via the open government portal at, all Canadians can view grants and contributions that have been awarded. Canadians can also consult the various departmental websites for information on those departments' plans, outcomes, costs incurred, contracts awarded, consultations and evaluations undertaken, and a wealth of other information about government and public sector representatives. Mandate letters and transition materials are also freely accessible.
As stated in the Clerk of the Privy Council's 26th annual report, the public service of Canada has received “clean, unqualified audits” for two decades. It tied with the United Kingdom for first place on the 2018 open data barometer and is recognized internationally as one of the most effective public services. I would like to acknowledge and appreciate their work.
I would like to conclude with a concrete example that illustrates the rationale behind all these measures and safeguards.
Last May, in response to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada adopted a series of measures to support individuals and organizations in many sectors of our economy. For my part, I insisted that my programs be adapted, whether by streamlining processes or speeding up payments, in order to support organizations that advance multiculturalism, diversity, inclusion and opportunities for youth in Canada. Thanks to the rigorous mechanisms that frame our actions, we've been able to respond quickly and effectively to the pressing needs of Canadians, but we are not out of the woods yet, and we have a lot more work to do.
We have adapted to the situation without compromising our rigour, and together we are continuing to build a government that is open and transparent to all Canadians.
Madam Chair, members of the committee, I thank you for your attention, and I look forward to your questions. I've tried to keep my comments brief so that we can answer as many questions as possible.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
I recall the OIC being issued in March to give me jurisdiction within the department, within ESDC as well as Canadian Heritage, which fall under my mandate as Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, through my responsibilities I also have three secretariats within Canadian Heritage. Numerous grants and contributions have been awarded through multiculturalism and others. I can refer to my deputy if you would like any concrete examples.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
I just want to make sure that I do provide all the information. I know that the Canada Service Corps is under my responsibilities, so I just don't know if any have been renewed since I became minister in 2019.
I can get back to the committee if you would like.
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