Canada Votes 2021: Party positions on gender

Canadian parents of gender-questioning young people may be wondering what are the positions of the various political parties regarding gender and how it might impact their children. With the Canadian federal election of September 20, 2021 less than two weeks away, it’s time to find out. 

To see which federal candidates have signed the pledge published by Canadian Gender Report and Gender Dysphoria Alliance for a non-partisan and unbiased review of the current medical and mental health practices being offered to gender-questioning children and young people in Canada, please go here.

(The parties are listed alphabetically.)

The Bloc Quebecois says nothing about LGBTQ issues at all in their platform. As a party, the Bloc is focused solely on Quebec and favours provincial action whenever possible. They likely take the view that Quebec’s Bill 70 has dealt with the conversion therapy issue there. That being said, the Bloc sided with the Liberals on Bill C-6: all 32 Bloc’s “députés” voted Yea, even though MP Fortin raised good questions at the Justice Committee hearing about the lack of clarity in the bill’s wording and the unprecedented number of briefs submitted that the members were unable to read in time.

The Conservative Party has a few policies that are relevant to gender-questioning kids. Some relevant aspects of their platform:

Banning conversion therapy

-Conservatives have been clear in our opposition to conversion therapy and attempts to forcibly change a person’s sexual orientation.

-We will implement the ban promised by the Trudeau Liberals but repeatedly delayed by them for political reasons.

-Using the Justice Department’s explanatory language about the intention of the ban, we will clarify that the ban does not criminalize non-coercive conversations, giving comfort to parents and others who fear that legitimate conversations might be criminalized.

Strengthening Immigration System

-Canada’s Conservatives have a proud record of assisting the world’s most vulnerable refugees, including our pioneering assistance to LGBTQ+ people, especially from Iran, who would otherwise face a death sentence.

-Canada’s Conservatives will make the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Project a permanent government program. We will work with LGBTQ+ organizations in Canada to encourage and facilitate greater participation by these organizations in refugee sponsorship, and we will lead a global network of free countries to assist the world’s persecuted sexual minorities.

Tangentially related: Promoting Free Speech on Campus

-Universities and colleges should be bastions of free-flowing debate and ideas, and our country is stronger when they are.

 -We will work with the provinces and territories to ensure that public post-secondary institutions accommodate the range of perspectives that make up Canada through a commitment to free speech and academic freedom.

The Green Party has many LGBT policies, although it is not clear what applies to adults and what to minors. Relevant aspects of the Green platform:

-Support NSERC’s Framework on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in scientific research across all federal grant funding programs, and commit to strengthening Canadian scientific and engineering communities to include the full participation of equity-seeking groups, including women, visible minorities, Indigenous Peoples, people with diverse gender identities and people with disabilities.

– Negotiate the Canada Health Accord to prioritize mental health and rehabilitation services, access to safe abortion services and access to gender-affirming health services such as hormones, blockers, and surgery

-Fund community-driven education and awareness programs that lead to a greater understanding of intersex realities and the diversity of sexualities and gender identities, and referral programs to direct for trans, non-binary and Two Spirit people to appropriate services. 

-Ensure access to comprehensive sexual health care and gender affirming health care, including hormone treatments and blockers, and gender confirmation surgeries. 

-Ensure that trans, non-binary, and Two Spirit people, without undertaking surgeries, are able to alter their sex designation on all federally-issued official documents, consistent with their gender identity.

-Ensure that the national census is designed to reflect the diversity of sex and gender identity and ask appropriate questions to ensure adequate, safe and effective data collection

Require accessible facilities in all federal buildings, including gender-neutral washrooms, changing facilities, etc. while also re-affirming trans, non-binary and Two Spirit people’s right to use whichever facilities with which they identify. 

-Ensure Canada advocates internationally for an end to state-sanctioned discrimination and violence against LGBTQI2+people. 

-In collaboration with women’s and Indigenous organizations, develop a comprehensive Canada-wide plan of action – with a timetable and dedicated funding – to eliminate violence against women, girls and gender-diverse people. 

-Support greater engagement of women in the political life of Canada by advocating that all political parties nominate, train, and support more women and gender-diverse candidates. 

The governing Liberal party worked to pass Bill C-6 “An act to amend the criminal code” (conversion therapy) over the last 12 months. The bill attracted an unprecedented number of briefs (290 made public and dozens more confidentially) with many expressing concerns about the poor and unclear wording of the bill that might criminalize certain conversations and create a chill effect on ethical psychotherapy. After three votes, the bill was passed in the spring and moved to the Senate, where a committee was formed for further study. However, the election was called before the Senate could have its hearings and thus the bill died.

Some relevant aspects of the Liberal platform:

What they have done-

-Introduced legislation to protect the dignity and equality of LGBTQ2 people by criminalizing conversion therapy

-In 2017, Justin Trudeau delivered a formal apology in the House of Commons to people harmed by federal legislation, policies, and practices that led to the oppression of, and discrimination against LGBTQ2 people in Canada.

-Established an LGBTQ2 Secretariat within the Privy Council Office to support government initiatives on LGBTQ2 issues.

-Helped support a strong LGBTQ2 movement in Canada through the creation of the new LGBTQ2 Community Capacity Projects Fund which has provided $15 million in grants to over 75 organizations.

-Declared trans rights as human rights and passed legislation to fully protect gender identity and expression.

-Initiated the process for Canada’s first LGBTQ2 Action Plan, to make Canada a more equal place and improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit people in Canada.

What they will do-

Supporting LGBTQ2 People

-We believe in a Canada where everyone can live as their true, authentic self in every aspect of life. Improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and Two-Spirit communities is essential to building a Canada where everyone is able to participate fully.

Ban Conversion Therapy

Conversion therapy has not only been scientifically discredited, but it also perpetuates harmful anti-LGBTQ2 stereotypes and exacerbates rates of LGBTQ2 poverty, discrimination, homelessness, and suicide. 

A re-elected Liberal government will:

-Re-introduce legislation within the first 100 days in office, to eliminate the practice of conversion therapy for everyone, and extend coverage of the ban to include people over 18 years of age.

Support Implementation of Federal LGBTQ2 Action Plan

-To better support LGBTQ2 people and build a society where everyone has equal rights and opportunities, a re-elected Liberal government will:

-Complete the Federal Action Plan within the first 100 days in office.

-Provide $40 million over 4 years starting in 2021-2022 for capacity funding to Canadian LGBTQ2 service organizations.

The NDP  has many LGBT policies, although it is not clear what applies to adults and what to minors. Some relevant aspects of their platform:

-When it comes to sexual orientation and gender expression, damaging practices such as so-called “conversion therapy” have no place in Canada. Unlike the Liberals, who stalled for six years on this issue, we will immediately legislate a ban on conversion therapy in Canada, and work with provinces and territories to support eliminating this practice in all parts of the country.

-Access to gender confirming procedures and medication can be life-saving for some transgender people. New Democrats will work with the provinces make sure that there is equal access to gender confirming surgery across the country, and that these procedures and medications are covered by public health plans. We will also review and eliminate systemic barriers related to gender in the delivery of federal public services, and provide funding to support the creation and expansion of shelters for trans youth.

-New Democrats believe that Canada has a unique and important role to play in helping LGBTQI2S+ refugees around the world. We will establish a clear and permanent path for resettlement of LGBTQI2S+ refugees in Canada to replace the current piece-meal approach that only deals with emergency cases as they arise.

-We can also do more to end employment discrimination faced by members of the LGBTQI2S+ community. A New Democrat government will add sexual orientation, gender identity and expression to the Employment Equity Act, in order to address the disadvantages experienced by the LGBTGQ2+ communities – and particularly transgender people – in finding work.

The PPC, a relatively new party in Canada, put out the following policy about gender.

“A People’s Party government will repeal C-16 and modify C-6 to protect children from predatory doctors and activists; we will protect women and men from intrusions by members of the other sex; and we will maintain sports for women in which biological men cannot participate.”

Tangentially, the PPC’s platform also touches on related issues of freedom of expression.

A People’s Party government will:

-Restrict the definition of hate speech in the Criminal Code to expression which explicitly advocates the use of force against identifiable groups or persons based on protected criteria such as religion, race, ethnicity, sex, or sexual orientation.

-Repeal any existing legislation or regulation curtailing free speech on the internet and prevent the reinstatement of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

-Repeal C-16, M-103, C-10, and C-36.

-Ensure that Canadians can exercise their freedom of conscience to its fullest extent as it is intended under the Charter and are not discriminated against because of their moral convictions.

-Withhold federal funding from any post-secondary institution shown to be violating the freedom of expression of its students or faculty.

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