MP Bill Siksay to Retire Before Next Election

Bill Siksay, Member of Parliament for Burnaby-Douglas, has announced that he will not be running again, in the next election:

Put simply, it just seems like time.  I am now in my 25th consecutive year working in federal politics.  I spent 18 years working as an assistant to the former MP for Burnaby-Douglas, Svend Robinson, and almost seven years as the MP.  I was elected and re-elected three times.  Few political careers span 25 years.

I am not resigning my seat and will remain as the MP for Burnaby-Douglas until voters choose my successor in the next federal election.  I will continue to work hard for the people of Burnaby-Douglas.  My office remains open and my staff and I will continue to help constituents with their problems with the federal government.  And I will continue to work on the issues of the day.

The issues of the day include Bill C-389, which proposes to add gender identity and gender expression to the Canada Human Rights Act and the hate crimes clause of the Criminal Code of Canada.  He adds a separate note to trans people:

This does not mean that I am abandoning Bill C389 and the struggle for full and explicit human rights for transsexual and transgender Canadians. I will continue to work hard to get the Bill through the House and off to the Senate before an election.

The bill would die when an election is called if it has not been passed in all stages in both the House and Senate. This timing has always been a huge challenge in a minority Parliament with an election always looming. I’m very hopeful that if the bill should not complete the process in this Parliament that there will be another MP who will pick up the bill in the next Parliament. Who knows, maybe even the next government will choose to move forward with a bill of its own? Don’t forget that we’ve identified new allies and supporters, and raised new awareness, as the debate has progressed.

One of the highlights of my time as an MP will always be my work with the transsexual and transgender communities. You’ve taught me so much about our humanity for which I am very thankful.

He is the first Canadian politician to be openly gay prior to being elected to Parliament, and has served as critic for Ethics, Access to Information and Privacy (currently); Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues (currently); Citizenship and Immigration (previously); and Canadian Heritage and Housing (previously).  He has championed reproductive rights and anti-poverty initiatives, among many causes.  He and partner Rev. Brian Burke are very active with the United Church of Canada, and Bill was one of the first people to come out as gay during the ordination process — he then helped lead the campaign toward LGBT inclusion.

For trans people in Western nations, there has been a long history in which “incrementalism” means being told to wait our turn, someone will come back for us, and then it never happens.

Well, Bill Siksay came back.  It’s not the same as doing it ourselves, I suppose (it’s going to take a bit of work to get into the positions where we can), but Mr. Siksay certainly restores some faith that there are some real allies out there.

(Bill C-389 staved off an attempt to kill it at report stage, at a vote of 143 to 131 — the first time trans issues have been brought to a vote in Parliament.  It moves to Third Reading, with the first hour of debate now happening later than expected, likely in February.)

(Crossposted to The Bilerico Project)

  1. While I wish MP Siksay well in his future endeavors, an ally like Bill in Parliament is going to be hard to replace. It really speaks to the urgent need for Canadian trans people to step up their civil rights game and run for their national and provincial legislatures.

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