Timothy Bloedow’s Sugar Daddy: How the Canadian Government is Funding Anti-Everything Agendas

[Final update: since all of this has happened, the No Apologies website has gone offline.  Consequently, many of these links will not work, and can only be checked through the use of the Wayback Machine.  Bloedow and some of the Christian Heritage Party -aligned contributors have moved to Bloedow's blog at christiangovernance.ca]

Updated below.

If Canadians realized the views and agendas their tax money was funding, I’d suspect they’d be pretty angry.  Because in a way, Timothy Bloedow’s sugar daddy is Member of Parliament Maurice Vellacott.  But in another way, Bloedow’s sugar daddy is us.

I want to preface this by saying that my intent in this column is not to silence Timothy Bloedow altogether.  He is entitled to his opinion, and he is entitled to speak his opinion.  While I believe in censure (reprimand — because part of the value of free speech is calling out those who speak bull$#!t) and voting with our feet and dollars (i.e. the right to not contribute to the financial, political and social fortunes of those who hate), I’m still not partial to censorship, since that is a two-edged sword that cuts both ways.  I want my right to be heard, so consistency demands that I not interfere with others’ rights to do so as well.

I am also not out to deny Bloedow a job.  His opinion doesn’t mean that he should be denied employment, provided he abides by what is required by the job during his time on the job. However, if his employer is essentially the Canadian taxpayer, I think I and other taxpayers should have some say about whether he should be promoting anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-Islamic, anti-woman agendas on company time, not to mention advocating for a government that is run by his personal belief system, rather than the democratic will of all Canadians, of all faiths and races and genders and orientations.  Which is what is happening right now.

Legislative Assistants (LAs) to Members of Parliament (MPs) are employed by the Government of Canada, and directed in their jobs by the MPs for whom they work.  So in a way, Timothy Bloedow’s “sugar daddy” is MP Maurice Vellacott, the Conservative MP for Saskatoon – Wanuskewin, and one of the most radically far right MPs in the Harper government, with anti-gay, anti-woman agendas that Bloedow fits right in with.  But in a way, Timothy Bloedow’s sugar daddy is us, taxpayers who pay his wages for the purpose in assisting Vellacott to perform his job as a government representative.

Somehow, I don’t think that Vellacott’s job on behalf of Canada is to promote the anti-democratic / theocratic agendas and views daily disseminated in billionuplicate on the website No Apologies and its predecessor, ChristianGovernance. Posts at No Apologies and ChristianGovernance are not timestamped, which is atypical for weblogs.  As a random sample, on Friday January 21st, 2011, I count a total of 10 posts, the majority of which were posted without attribution — which is currently only done by Bloedow, who reacquired full administration of the website at the end of 2010.  (There’s a bit of a drop in activity recently, which makes sense given that a Legislative Assistant should be busier now with helping the Harper Conservatives and his boss prepare for an election).  It’s pretty much accepted universally online that unless it’s attributed to other occasional contributors in the headline, then the post is by Bloedow.

Part of the reason for the lack of attribution is that a significant percentage of the articles are reposts of news or commentary items not authored by Bloedow, but retitled and prefaced by his own skewed spin of what the article means or represents, sometimes carelessly signed by him.   And although the posts are not timestamped, they usually roll in on his RSS feed during the course of the morning or afternoon.  A number of the reposted articles go live on No Apologies within hours of them going live at their originating websites, during the day.  And his Twitter feeds at @ChrGov and @NoApologiesca have no such ability to mask his posting at all hours.  At least some of his postings inevitably reveal blogging on the taxpayer’s dime.

What the Taxpayer’s Dime is Funding:

I wrote about Tim Bloedow’s retitles and commentaries before, when discussing the efforts of another website (LifeSiteNews) to trumpet Uganda’s anti-gay work to Canadians while whitewashing how these efforts led to that country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which calls for the execution of “repeat offender” gays and lesbians, and 7-year prison terms for people who fail to report them or who provide assistance of any kind to them.  The article apparently even comes up near the top of searches so that people can be aware of LifeSite’s obfuscations when they type “donate to lifesite.ca” into Google.  Oops.  Unfortunate timing, that(A cautionary note, too: going to the Google link and clicking on “The Canadian Religious Right’s Obfuscation Fetish” might cause it to be ranked even higher, so be careful.  Also be careful about doing the same with similar search terms, wherever else you might find that post in Google searches)

In [Bloedow's] consultation to the 2011 federal budget, he recommends “shutting down the enslaving Indian Act and setting Aboriginal people free to be entrepreneurial and to abandon dependency” (voiding treaties with First Nations peoples and cutting off all reparations payments), defunding all Non-Governmental Organizations “so that only those with a real membership base” (i.e. [dedicated religious congregations]…) will survive, eliminate Marxist graduated taxation ([stop taxing businesses and individuals according to their earnings, inevitably causing the insanely wealthy to either have to pay more or work harder to fudge the numbers]), “encouraging voluntary social supports and reducing expensive and destructive dependence on the state” (cut off all social programs), “sharply reduce red tape, and roll back the micro-managing, paternalistic developments of recent years with the increase in oppressive regulations under the guise of health and safety” (because deregulation works oh so well, such as when it was applied to banks in the US, offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico or even the deregulation of power and natural gas in Alberta)

If that’s not enough, here are a few others. In “Canada’s socialists terrified of media freedom,” he discusses a decision by the CRTC to amend its rules to allow news sources to broadcast “false or misleading news:

“Some of the best evidence of the irrelevance and intellectually feeble nature of socialism is the fact that socialists hate media freedom. They know their views cannot stand up to the light of day and rational scrutiny. They know that their personal, deeply held beliefs are uncivilized and totalitarian. So they don’t want to have to defend them before a watching public. They don’t want to be asked hard questions about their crackerjack convictions.”

Rational scrutiny, or twisted spin?  You decide.

Just as the “rational scrutiny” he champions doesn’t have to actually be true, it’s not akin to science either, judging from “The transparent ignorance of modern “experts”:

“For several generations, most Canadians have embraced the cult of the expert, abdicating responsibility to them. These Christians joined non-Christians in pretending that the pursuit of expertise would lead only in one direction, towards indisputable truth. They pretended that all intelligent and honest people would interpret the evidence in only one way. Instead, we are learning, and very slowly accepting, that the interpretation of the evidence depends on our theological and philosophical premises. This means that possession of a Biblical worldview is necessary for wisdom.”

He commemorated the Transgender Day of Remembrance with this mockery:

“Maybe some of these adults are predatory beasts who want to groom and desensitize youth and children to be their victims. Perhaps they are simply fools. But what a tragedy that on any day, let alone Universal Children’s Day, another group of sex activists wants to celebrate their confusion and a perversion that many say is a threat to children.

“… those who think they are “transgendered” are also tragic victims. They are not transgendered. They are confused. They are lost. They need the guidance and help from real men and real women. They need protection, including by the law, from those who would sexually, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually abuse them by affirming them in their confusion….”

In that same article, he went on to pontificate about righteous masculinity and finished by hyping a book penned by an author who realized that God wanted her home and pregnant, rather than troubling her pretty little head about wanting a career.

Which I suppose would be consistent with his thoughts on women in combat:

“You can have a hundred pragmatic arguments for allowing women to enter combat but, at the end of the day, the real issue is that real men don’t send women into places where they can kill and be killed.”

Tim Bloedow, in fact, is advocating for a Canada in which only theology is accepted as fact, and where only Christians who meet his standard are entitled to govern… or vote.  Apparently, that’s Bloedow’s idea of democracy (not that he’s the only one).  If you’re Muslim, or Jewish, or atheist, or agnostic, or Unitarian or even attend a progressive organization like the United Church, well, too bad.  One example of this comes from his introduction to Chuck Colson Draws The Wrong Conclusion:

“Regretfully, Mr. Colson is denying the need for an explicitly Christian solution to the current problems in the U.S. If you work together with non-Christians, they will want to contribute their ideas to the solution. But Christians should appreciate that what is good depends on God and the true Christian witness to Him. A consistent and long-term commitment to the good cannot be sustained outside of Christ. Mr. Colson is also falling into step with popular American populism. But the reality is that one doesn’t need a majority to influence the culture. He has just finished demonstrating that with two accounts of courageous individuals under Nazi rule. And he demonstrates it in this article by noting that those currently in charge represent a minority opinion. What is needed is a courageous – and, for Christians, a godly – minority. If we rise to influence through free and democratic means, then there is nothing unchristian about exercising leadership on the basis of Christian principles even if we aren’t a majority. As in the case of today’s minority elites, most people will just fall in step because they are more interested with peace and putting food on their tables. And if we reflect the majority opinion, they will be largely happy with us as well.

If Christians want to restore truth and righteousness and liberty to America – and to Canada – we need to abandon the undemocratic notion of populism and the loser’s view that 50+1 is the level of support necessary to exercise leadership.”

And again, he is entitled to have all of those opinions.  It’s up to taxpayers, though, whether their money should be used to widely advocate for that kind of country.  For someone who feels that taxpayers’ money should not be used to fund non-religious pregnancy counseling, multiculturalism, mention to new immigrants of Canada’s relatively unique status as a nation that embraces same-sex marriage, public education, tolerance inclusion in school curricula, pro-peace Islamic clerics’ inclusion in foreign affairs events and the like, he still has no issue with spending taxpayers’ money on promoting his own agendas.

The Bosses

I want to reiterate that I’m not calling for Timothy Bloedow to be censored or fired.  This is a matter of consistency: I want the right to be heard, and, well, that means I need to accord the same to others, regardless of how fringe they might be.  Besides, No Apologies remains an interesting window into the extreme nature of Christian Nationalism in Canada, is handy for researchers like myself (reading through the doublespeak), and is almost brazenly naked enough to drive people away from his views in the same kind of way that the Fred Phelps / WBC clan does.  However, I do believe that it is reasonable as a taxpayer to expect assurances that this blogging and site maintenance is not done on the corporate dime… and to also expect some assurances that these extreme views are not representative of those of the Government of Canada.

If you agree, you could probably contact Maurice Vellacott, the MP who hired and directs Bloedow.  It might not make a difference, though since Vellacott has promoted many of the same agendas as Bloedow (not to mention that if you write to him at that info, it very well might be Bloedow handling your mail, anyway).  Within hours of a Saskatchewan court ruling that Marriage Commissioners (as opposed to religious leaders) could not refuse to officiate same-sex wedding ceremonies, Vellacott was petitioning the provincial Justice Minister to adopt a complex scheme (and expensive, given that it called for the creation of a government office for this sole purpose) in which commissioners could refuse anonymously.  He promoted junk science that claimed that abortions cause breast cancer.  He tabled private members Bill C-422, which was designed to end child support and enshrine paternal authority after divorce.  His C-537 was intended to enable medical professionals to refuse to perform medical treatment if they felt it was against their religion.  So you might not get a sympathetic ear.

Contacting his boss, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on the other hand, might be worth a try.  Harper might not appreciate the fact that Vellacott’s Legislative Assistant is promoting the Christian Heritage Party by featuring commentaries like “Can Any Good Thing Come Out of Ottawa?” and taking CHP administration on as guest contributors, on the company dime.  The Christian Heritage Party would most likely siphon off some of the far right-wing and Christian nationalist support that Harper would need in order to form a majority government — at a time when election call is still rumoured to be near.

Unfortunate timing, that.

If you found this illuminating, then please vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers.  Thanks!

————— Update ————————–

The following was posted today at No Apologies:

ChristianGovernance and NoApologies are very pleased to be able to update our readers and supporters on developments with the organization. From the start, we have been committed to growing a broad-based organization rather than a one man operation. Form the outset, ChristianGovernance has operated as a “family business”, with Tim Bloedow and his wife Lynette and son Daniel being active in different aspects of the operation.

Lynette is very active with the dad-to-day development and promotion of our projects. Right now she is speaking to many of you, and others, to promote our exciting Titanic 2011 dinner coming up in April. Daniel has been helping in different areas, including website maintenance, and the posting of articles on NoApologies.

We also have our three Directors, required for a non-profit corporations, and our very helpful webmaster. Other volunteers are helping organize and promote out Titanic event and our WAY Camp.We also have excellent columnists writing regularly for NoApologies: Rod Taylor, Tom Bartlett, David Krayden, and Larry Bray. And we’re making progress in discussions to bring another person on board in a progressive manner, in order to give us a more active political voice.

Of course, Taylor, Bartlett, Krayden and Bray are all given a byline when they post.  But assuming this is correct and that Bloedow and son both pitch in on posting, both with the same kind of commentary and retitles and such, that could partly satisfy question one, about whether he is posting while in the employ of the citizens of Canada, or at least make it difficult to know otherwise.

I’m awaiting a response from the Prime Minister’s office on part two of this question: whether the views expressed reflect those of the Government of Canada in any way.

————— Update Two ————————–

I recived the following from the PMO:

Please know that your e-mail message has been received in the Prime Minister’s Office and that your comments have been noted.  Our office always welcomes hearing from correspondents and being made aware of their views.

Thank you for writing.

Sachez que le Cabinet du Premier ministre a bien reçu votre courriel et que nous avons pris bonne note de vos commentaires. Nous aimons être bien informés de l’opinion des correspondants.

Je vous remercie d’avoir écrit au Premier ministre.

>>>   Original Message   >>>

Dear Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper,

I’m writing with concern about the extreme attitudes being disseminated online by an employee of the Government of Canada, and under the direction of a Conservative Member of Parliament.  I realize that Timothy Bloedow is entitled to have the opinions that he has, and also that he should be as free as anyone to post them online, as he does by maintaining and posting to NoApologies.ca.

However, since he is a Legislative Assistant for Maurice Vellacott, I would like (as a Canadian and a taxpayer) some assurance that he is not advocating these radical positions while he is supposed to be working on behalf of Canadians and on behalf of our representatives.

I would also like some assurance that these positions are not the positions of the Government of Canada.  I sort of guess that they probably aren’t, given that ample time is given at his website hyping the Christian Heritage Party, rather than any democratically-elected and represented party in Parliament — but because he is an assistant to a Conservative MP, I feel it warrants some official clarification.

Thank you for giving this due consideration.  I will attach some quotes from Mr. Bloedow below my signature, so you can see specifically what kinds of positions I am referring to.

Sincerely,
Mercedes Allen

Which, of course, is not an answer.  But it was an interestingly fast response.  To be continued…?

Live Nude Sex Show!

… is not what you would expect to be the heading used to advertise an elective on-campus speaker series event.  But then, most of us never attended Northwestern University.

After an initial discussion at Ryan Family Auditorium, the students were told that a couple were going to demonstrate the use of a sex toy and female orgasm.

“Both professor Bailey and myself gave them five or six warnings about what was about to happen and it would be graphic,” Melvoin-Berg said.

J. Michael Bailey, of course, is no stranger to controversy.  When he wrote “The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism,” Bailey came under fire for conflating transsexuals with transvestites in order to popularize the theory of autogynephilia, for allegedly using discussions with people who never consented to being interviewed, and allegedly having sex with one of his research subjects.  He also famously co-wrote a paper speculating about using eugenics to eradicate homosexuality.

The speaker series for Prof. Bailey’s Psychology 337: Human Sexuality this year includes voluntary classes (not required for grades) about bondage, swinging, exhibitionism and other fetishes. For Valentine’s Day, he invited two convicted sex offenders to speak about rape and molestation.  On the evening in question, his guest was a fellow who according to The Chicago Sun-Times “runs the ‘Weird Chicago Red Light District Sex Tour,’ which has participants playing games like ‘spot the ho’ as they travel the city looking for prostitutes.” As the evening wore on, the discussion turned into a debate about female orgasm, when someone made a spur-of-the-moment query, and out came the “f— saw,” a reciprocating saw rigged to take a dildo.

“We were watching a video on sexual arousal … ,” [Northwestern senior Justin] Smith said. “The main guy, Ken, said, ‘Are you ready for the live sex show?’ We were like, ‘OK.’”

Now, I have to admit being conflicted on this one. I’m a fairly sex positive person myself, and believe that there should be greater awareness about things like female orgasm and how to achieve it.  However, I have to wonder just how much of this event was treated with a sideshow atmosphere, given Bailey’s complaint that past speakers “had not been very interesting” and “had merely given powerpoint presentations?” I also wonder how many people in attendance really consented to witnessing something that hadn’t been advertised, as opposed to going along for a myriad of other reasons — such as peer pressure or the apathy typified by a sentiment of “well, I’m here already.”  One junior described the demo as a “little more explicit than expected.”

I guess I’m a prude, after all.

Full disclosure: I also have to admit a bias.  Bailey has in the past demonstrated stunning arrogance in interviews, and as a self-proclaimed “expert” on transsexualism, claims to know better than I do who I am and what that means, even though his conclusion in no way matches reality.  When someone thinks I should be their trained circus freak, it’s more than a little button-pushing.

All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.

Regardless of what anyone thinks, though, Fox News has the story, now.  For someone with an already chequered record, will this finally be The Controversy…?

Cruel and Unusual Punishment On Planet New Orleans

I’m going to repost an article about how a law dating back to 1805 that criminalizes “unnatural copulation” (often taken to include oral and anal sex) is being used to force sex workers (especially trans women and racial minorities, who are disproportionately convicted), to be added to the sex offender registry.  Not only that, but once on the registry, there are some far more dire consequences that go with the designation.

There are some updates.

Alexis Agathocleous recaps the issue at the Bilerico Project:

This law has cost the plaintiffs in Doe v. Jindal dearly. They must carry a state driver’s license and identification card which features the words “SEX OFFENDER” printed in bright orange capital letters. They have had to send postcards to neighbors, schools, parks, community centers, and churches announcing themselves as sex offenders and disclosing their names and addresses. Their photographs, names, and addresses also appear on the online sex offender registry.

Some of the women who have joined this lawsuit as plaintiffs have been denied access to homeless shelters and drug treatment because those facilities won’t accept sex offenders. As one woman explained: “When I call about a job, I have to ask if they will hire sex offenders.” The answer is generally predictable. And as another woman pointed out: “When you mail those cards it’s so humiliating. People kill you for that.” More than one person has said that they fear for their safety.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has taken up the issue, and has filed a federal lawsuit following the most recent the Doe v. Jindal at the federal level in the Eastern District of Louisiana.  The plaintiffs, who according to Harlot’s Parlor include “a grandmother, a mother of four, three transgender women, and a man,” are arguing that the law used to classify them as sex offenders (“Solicitation of a Crime Against Nature,” a.k.a. SCAN) is unconstitutional and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

I’m reposting the article below, because there was very little interest in this issue at the time it was originally posted, and yet the situation is horrifically unjust when you find out the details.  With the new happenings, hopefully people can be motivated to act, this time.

Please forward this far and wide, or write about it too, if you blog etc.  Let’s give this fight some momentum.  Please.

—- Original Article —-

At Harlot’s Parlour, Douglas Fox reminds us of the situation for sex workers in Louisiana, where women of colour and trans workers seem to be preferred targets of a backwards, draconian law that ruins lives:

“In many of the highlighted cases in New Orleans it is especially sex workers who are also the most vulnerable people in that society who appear to be the targets of this disgraceful policy. Placing people on sex offender’s registers that will affect their lives for years is not only disgraceful but wrong.”

That’s right, the end result of this policy is that women are put onto the sex offender registry.  The law that enables this is a centuries-old statute that criminalizes “unnatural copulation.”  The sickening irony is that a legal tool meant to help protect children from predators is being used primarily to marginalize and impoverish women.  And I probably don’t need to say it, but the law has been and continues to be applied selectively.  From Louisiana Weekly:

“New Orleans city police and the district attorney’s office are using a state law written for child molesters to charge hundreds of sex workers like Tabitha as sex offenders. The law, which dates back to 1805, makes it a crime against nature to engage in “unnatural copulation”-a term New Orleans cops and the district attorney’s office have interpreted to mean anal or oral sex. Sex workers convicted of breaking this law are charged with felonies, issued longer jail sentences and forced to register as sex offenders. They must also carry a driver’s license with the label “sex offender” printed on it.

Of the 861 sex offenders currently registered in New Orleans, 483 were convicted of a crime against nature, according to Doug Cain, a spokesperson with the Louisiana State Police. And of those convicted of a crime against nature, 78 percent are Black and almost all are women.”

The LW article examines the issue in shocking detail (if that link goes out of date, it’s also at Colorlines and Monthly Review).  Because of a revision in 2006, the least serious offenses require a minimum of 15 years listed in the sex offender registry.  The consequences of being charged with “unnatural copulation” and being added to the registry can include:

  • Having to purchase and mail postcards with one’s photo on them to everyone in their neighborhood to notify them of one’s conviction,
  • Inability to get released on bail, because they’re seen as a greater risk for flight than most violent offenders,
  • Inability to get food stamps or public assistance because of a felony on record,
  • If one challenges ones sentence in court and loses, it becomes an automatic third offense, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years,
  • Limited job and housing options, ensuring that one remains in poverty and the cycle is further self-perpetuated,
  • A mere arrest on probation (conviction not required) results in an extension of time on the registry.

(I’ve not been able to confirm this, but it’s also been said that online chat can also get one added to the sex offender registry in New Orleans.)

According to NPR (which conflates human trafficking internationally with domestic sex work to reinforce the inaccurate meme that sex workers here are predominantly forced into prostitution), the johns are typically not similarly charged.

Change.org cites a public defender as saying that about half of all arrests for prostitution in New Orleans get tried in this way.

Lawrence v. Texas would seem to make this all unconstitutional.  But as Hunter of Justice notes regarding sex workers:

Lawrence… specifically excluded commercial sexual encounters from the ambit of constitutional protection that it recognized for consensual sexual acts between adults. And the Louisiana statute specifically criminalizes solicitation for sodomy for payment. As a result, the state can argue that this portion of the law is not affected by Lawrence.”

While I tend to be skeptical of the use of online petitions, there is one initiated at Petition Online and it does at least serve to promote valuable awareness.  Meanwhile, Women With A Vision, VOTE-NOLA, INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, Critical Resistance and others have formed a coalition to try to fight the legislation and its application.  They could use our support.

(Offered to sexgenderbody)

When “Unnecessary” Means “We Don’t Wanna”

In many ways, of course, it’s not fair to compare civil rights struggles.  There are many different unique aspects to each that get lost in comparison.  And yet, there is some value in doing so, as patterns emerge, and they inform our understanding of civil rights movements as a whole.  I don’t mean to erase or be insensitive to historic and ongoing hardships when I do.

But modern society has this ongoing and irrational fear of others in the washrooms.  In the US south, decades earlier, there was reluctance to desegregate washrooms because of “delicate sensibilities” and beliefs in the inferiority and impurity of entire groups of people.  In my I-won’t-say-how-long-ago social studies class, I remember participating in a debate that drew from current events at that time about washrooms for the disabled… and whether physically challenged people “making others uncomfortable” was a valid reason for a separate designated third restroom (and although the third washroom we’re familiar with today now addresses important accessibility issues, remembering the discussions that led to them sure puts a weird and unquiet spin on them, huh?).  In the advent of HIV, there were ignorant comments about gay men in washrooms, borne by fears that had not yet been dispelled by science that AIDS could be contracted from a toilet seat.  I don’t know if it’s because we feel so particularly vulnerable when our pants are down that we forget that everyone else values their privacy just as much as we do, but the public washroom continues to be the perennial final frontier.

And every time, there was hysteria.  Every time, it was unfounded. Every time, our society ultimately moved toward progress, inclusion and accommodation, anyway.  And every time, we eventually realized looking back that the potty panic was much ado about nothing.

One of the Conservative government’s stated reasons for opposing Bill C-389, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression), was that it was “unnecessary.”

But it IS necessary.  It’s necessary exactly because this persists(h/t Jessica) It’s somewhat bizarre that this persists, because it’s focusing something that’s not even in Bill C-389, something that has already been legal and happening for decades.  But this bill is necessary exactly because uninformed and frightened people are arguing an unfounded and irrational argument as justification for excluding transsexual and transgender people from human rights legislation, specifically because of who they are.  Human rights legislation is exactly about addressing discriminating against people because of who they are, and this argument shows that the current state of legislation isn’t doing the job.

It’s necessary because this persists too.  Some people are so opposed to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people having equal rights that they will go to great lengths to invalidate those rights, and make it legal to discriminate.  Not happy with the fact that the City of Missoula passed LGBT-inclusive rights legislation, opponents went to state of Montana legislators, to find someone willing to table a bill that would prevent local governments from enacting human rights ordinances that weren’t exactly as written in state legislation.  I wrote about Missoula last year, both when the potty panic alarm was sounded and when legislators and the public ultimately saw through it and realized the ordinance needed to be passed — on a vote of 10 to 2.

“People are understandably furious this is happening,” [Montana Human Rights Network lobbyist and organizer Jamee] Greer said. “I think I’ve said this before, but there were hundreds of volunteer hours put into this campaign. People feel like something is being taken away from them.”

The proposal also raises legal concerns, according the ACLU of Montana. Public policy director Niki Zupanic said the bill has similarities to a Colorado law the U.S. Supreme Court struck down; it chips away at local control afforded by the Montana Constitution; and it would undo policies many cities instated after a 2005 decision by the Montana Supreme Court.

While the Montana legislation is somewhat different than the amendment the U.S. high court knocked down in Romer v. Evans, some of the same principles apply, Zupanic said. In that case, she said, the court ruled the state of Colorado couldn’t prohibit an entire group of people from participating in the political process because there is animosity toward that group; It singled out people who were lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Did a washroom incident actually occur since Missoula’s ordinance went into effect to make the public think differently?  Nope.  It’s just a case of a few loud and fringe fearmongers who “don’t wanna” let others coexist in their spaces.

Quite obviously, the desire to discriminate based on these traits rather than on individual merit exists.  Obviously, a clear and explicit statement of inclusion from the powers that be is needed.

When members of the Conservative government of Canada say that trans protections are “unnecessary,” this is a softer way of avoiding adding them to legislation, because they can’t follow the example of lone nut evangelists by openly conflating transsexual and transgender people interchangably with sexual predators.

Well, except for some folks who didn’t get the memo.

But the party line has been to say that trans protections are unnecessary because some existing legal precedents have been in favour of transsexuals. Here’s why that doesn’t stand up:

  • Precedents aren’t the same as law, and can be overturned,
  • Current precedents have varied with regard to gender expression, which is half of the bill,
  • Without explicit inclusion, both trans people and authorities have opted not to address injustices that have occurred — trans people because of defeatism and feeling alone and isolated, and authorities because it can sometimes be easier to blame the victim and / or be dismissive than add to the workload,
  • Clear statement of policy is needed for agencies both within government and elsewhere to recognize that inclusion exists.  Many companies do not have a policy on trans people, some refusing to do so because they feel they’re already in compliance with existing legislation (I related my own experience of that to Xtra),
  • Stating the scope of coverage in policy makes it understood that things like housing and access to services do matter — that there need to be more protections than those currently obtained for jobs,
  • The hate crimes inclusion is entirely new — and without it, data on hate crimes against trans people are not gathered,
  • Comprehensive protections also affirm the Nation’s commitment to equality, fairness, freedom from discrimination, and not excusing violence when the victims are part of a visible minority class.

While I’ve pointed out that explicit legal inclusion exists in over 125 or 130 jurisdictions in North America (some back to 1975), currently, in Canada, gender identity and gender expression are only specifically included in legislation in the Northwest Territories and in the City of Toronto.  So this is really not about the legislation being unnecessary.

So what are the chances of this argument being just another case of “we don’t wanna?”

It’s bizarre in this day and age that we still consider it acceptable to argue about whether any particular class should be entitled to co-existence and equality — and even jockey to deny them that by resorting to non-democratic means when opposing in democratic fora fails.  Maybe our Prime Minister should think on this before he starts lecturing other nations on human rights.

Bill C-389 will be coming up for second reading in the Senate soon. Canadian trans folks are encouraged to lobby the Senate.  Contact information and a sample letter can be found at transrights.ca It’s important that they hear your stories, understand how discrimination can and does impact our lives, and see how important it is to pass this bill.

____

(anything I’ve written on this blog with regard to Bill C-389 can be freely distributed for the sake of promoting awareness, with the only conditions being that you: 1] don’t alter it other than by quoting or excerpting, or 2] don’t claim or imply to have written it)

C-389 Update

Initial reports said that Bill C-389 — which would extend legal protections to transsexual and transgender Canadians — would be going to second reading in the Senate on Tuesday the 15th.  As someone who repeated those reports, I’d like to clarify them.

The bill could go to third reading as early as today, but there are still efforts underway to find someone to table the bill and chart a course.  No specific day has been scheduled as of yet.

In the meanwhile, Canadian trans folks are encouraged to lobby the Senate.  Contact information and a sample letter can be found at transrights.ca

It’s important that they hear your stories, understand how discrimination can and does impact our lives, and see how important it is to pass this bill.

And thank you to everyone who speaks up!

Canada’s Trans Rights Bill C-389 Passes

Bill C-389, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression) passed at Third Reading, on a vote of 143 for to 135 against.

Third Reading took place nearly a month sooner than originally scheduled, because Olivia Chow traded her Private Member’s Bill spot so the bill could be read earlier.  This was due to concerns that a Spring election will be called, which would kill all bills still in the legislative process.

After the fold: what they said at debate on Monday, and what happens next (because it’s not enacted into law just yet):
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Bill C-389 Moved Up

The Member of Parliament who advanced Bill C-389, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression) — Bill Siksay — reports:

The next step in the process is one hour of third reading debate and a vote.  The debate is currently scheduled to take place on Monday February 7, 2011 at 11am. The vote will likely be on Wednesday February 9, 2011 between 5:30 and 6:00pm.  These dates and times are subject to change.  I will let you know if there are any changes to these dates or times.

This date was negotiated in an attempt to ensure that the bill goes to the final vote in the House of Commons as soon as possible, given the speculation about a possible spring election.

This is an important reschedule.  It had originally been slated for debate and third reading on March 7th.  A week ago, Egale Canada issued a request that people urge their MP to push for an earlier date, given the concern that an early election call was rumoured to be imminent, and would kill the bill.

So it has been moved up to Wednesday of next week.  There isn’t much time, but there is still more that can be done.

What can you do to show your support for C-389?

  1. You can thank those MPs who voted in favour of my bill at report stage and ask them to continue to support the bill.   Ask them to be sure to be present for the vote on February 9th.
  2. You can lobby your local MP to support C-389 at the third reading vote.
  3. You can contact those MPs who abstained or were not present for the vote and encourage them to be present to support the bill.

…I am optimistic about the success of my bill at third reading, but the vote at report stage was quite close, so it is important to encourage all MPs who voted in favour to be present for the vote.  We cannot take the final result for granted, and if only a few supporters are absent, the result could be different and the bill could fail.  If C-389 passes third reading in the House of Commons, it will move on to a similar process in the Senate.

MP contact information can be found here.

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