‘It’s only a first step,’ says NDP MP Randall Garrison
Christin Scarlett Milloy
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
UPDATE: June 7 —In a late vote June 6, NDP MP Randall Garrison’s Bill C-279 passed second reading by a vote of 150 to 132.
Several Conservative MPs were among those who rose to support the bill.
“I’m excited, but it’s only a first step,” Garrison says.
The bill now goes to committee before returning to the House for third reading and, ultimately, to the Senate.
Some trans activists reacted skeptically June 1 when Garrison announced his intention to support amendments removing “gender expression” from the bill and adding a definition for “gender identity.”
“If Randall Garrison [makes these amendments], then I probably would no longer support this bill,” wrote Alberta blogger Mercedes Allen. “The moment we start establishing definitions, we are placing limits and defining who can be excluded from those protections.”
Garrison maintains he’s sensitive to these concerns. “We are going to write a definition for gender identity that I hope will include the ‘expression’ phrase,” he says. “Once gender identity is in the Human Rights Code, the courts and human rights commissions will interpret what that means.”
Garrison believes the amendments are necessary to pass the bill.
Support from select Tories in the House was key to the vote.
“We worked hard to win support on the other side. I had very good cooperation from the parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, Kerry-Lynne Findlay. She is [the Tories’] main representative on the justice committee, and I look forward to working with her on getting the bill the rest of the way through,” Garrison says.