Canadian MPs Allegedly Snicker and Mock Trans Screening Concerns in Parliament

Continuing the reportage of the new regulations that could potentially bar some trans Canadians from being able to board a plane.  Here’s part one for the background, and a statement from the Trans Equality Society of Alberta.  There are a few online petitions to address the issue, including this one at Change.org.

Xtra is reporting that “Lebel and other Conservative MPs were openly “snickering” and disrespectfully mocking Garrison, Morin and Liberal MP Justin Trudeau as they pressed the government for answers.”

“The response was outrageous,” [Olivia] Chow says. “It’s totally ridiculous. If you listen to the audio, you can hear [Conservative MPs] snickering in the background.”

Randall Garrison — the NDP’s LGBT critic — is also the author of Bill C-279, the Private Member’s Bill that will be coming up for Second Reading (in April or later, it appears) which proposes to add transsexual and transgender people to the list of protected classes in the Canada Human Rights Act and the hate crimes provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada.  Garrison, Dany Morin (NDP) and Justin Trudeau (Liberal Party) grilled Transportation Minister Denis Lebel in Question Period Wednesday.

In a blog post at Huffpo Canada, Kyle Knight points out that the gender marker match requirement is actually far beyond the international standard for security screening at airports:

According to the ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization], there are four mandatory personal data points on all international travel documents: name, date of birth, nationality, and sex. ICAO standards for Machine Readable Passports indicate that sex may be listed as unspecified, both in the part inspected by humans and in the part that is read by computers.

Might this be the reason that Transport Canada apparently pulled their response letter that Xtra had featured on their website?

And in an interview with CityNews Toronto, Christin Milloy says she’s heard of people having trouble in airports as a result of the regulation.  So far, I have no confirmation of this, so we still have to wait until someone comes forward.

Garrison and Olivia Chow have reportedly drafted a motion to rescind the new regulations, so there may be more happening tomorrow.  In the meantime, here is a video of the discussion (there’s a second video of Justin Trudeau’s speech at the Xtra link).  Full english language transcript from the day’s Hansard follows below the fold (French language transcript also available from the Parliamentary website).

Excerpt from the 41st PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION; EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 070; Wednesday, February 1, 2012:

Airline Industry

    Mr. Speaker, without any consultation, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities quietly changed identification requirements for security screening at airports. Airlines are now required to block transgendered Canadians from flying if their appearance does not match the gender shown on their ID. This is both discriminatory and a violation of Canadian mobility rights.
     Will the minister now acknowledge and respect transgendered Canadians’ rights and will the members opposite stop making light of this question and immediately rescind this regulation?
    Mr. Speaker, there are very important security rules for boarding airplanes in Canada in order to protect the public. These rules are applied fairly for all passengers.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed with the response of the Minister of Transport. Once again, the Conservatives are showing the extent of their ignorance of the reality of transsexual and transgendered people and LGBT issues in Canada. Transport Canada has shown a complete lack of sensitivity. This new air transportation regulation will prevent transgendered and transsexual people from boarding flights.
    Will the minister acknowledge this mistake and immediately amend the requirements in order to respect the rights of transsexual and transgendered Canadians? This is unacceptable.
    Mr. Speaker, what is unacceptable is that the member’s party regularly asks us to increase security at Canadian airports and for air transportation. The critic asks for this on a regular basis. Today, he is asking us to relax the rules, to make our airport security measures less stringent. All passengers will continue to be carefully monitored by airport screeners. Airport security is extremely important to our government.
… (other discussion) …

Air Transportation Industry

    Mr. Speaker, since the election, this government’s lack of tolerance for our minorities has grown. A new rule prohibits airlines from allowing a person to board a plane if their appearance does not match the gender on their identification, unless they have a medical certificate. This is a direct affront to the transsexual and transgendered community, which is outraged by this minister who has introduced discrimination under the guise of security.
    Why is this government obsessed with the gender of an individual, when it is their identity that matters?
    Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier, the security of Canada’s airports is extremely important to our government. We believe that it is standard procedure for every individual who wishes to board a plane to be identified by the people at security screening. Since September 11, many screening measures have been improved, and I believe that it is normal for people checking the identification of those boarding the plane to be able to recognize them. We do not believe in half measures when it comes to air security. That is very important.

Crossposted to The Bilerico Project

  1. Here’s a version of the video with closed captions in English and French: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Guy9gBLRpwA

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