In the past two days, there have been two interesting votes in the House of Commons, both of which serve to underscore precisely why I loathe the Harper Regime as much as I do.
The first of them, Bill C-279, was of tremendous direct importance to myself: it amends the Human Rights Code of Canada to include explicit protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Should it become law, no longer would it be legal to refuse people like me employment, housing, or public accommodations just because of our transgender status*. Mercifully, this bill passed, by a margin of 149-137. It enjoyed the unanimous support of all four opposition parties, but it only managed to pass because 18 members of the Government saw fit to vote yea. That’s 18…out of 164. Not including the Prime Minister, I should point out. Presumably he, along with the other 89% percent of Tory MPs who voted no, does not think that I deserve to be treated with the absolute basic standard of Human decency. I should point out that this bill passed third reading in the last parliament as well. In that case, Harper ordered his unelected majority in the senate to kill the bill when it went up for review. You may forgive me, therefore, if I don’t feel very optimistic this time around either.
The second, vote 631, was of tremendous direct importance to the entire country. The vote was to assert the government’s belief that scientific research is fundamental to sound public policy-making. Now, it’s not terribly surprising to me that this motion was defeated, since it was being used as a pretext to renew funding for a fresh water research laboratory in Northern Ontario which Harper, for some reason, seems hell-bent-for-leather on killing. But what really stood out to me on this one was how it broke down on partisan lines. When asked to stand-up for the principle that public policy should be informed by real world data, every single Tory MP said no.
Every. Single. One.
This is something that everyone should really bear in mind the next time a federal election rolls around.
*Technically, this is already illegal under the protection against gender discrimination, but listing it explicitly means that this precedent no longer needs to be reasserted every time there’s a court challenge.