In question period today I had originally planned to ask government a question concerning the preservation of old growth forests on Vancouver Island. But since the relevant Minister was not available to respond in Question Period today, I had to be nimble and switch direction.
Earlier in the day, the BC Green Party had issued a release (reproduced below) encouraging B.C. Premier Christy Clark to embrace the Gender Identity and Expression Human Rights bill introduced to the Legislature yesterday by BC NDP MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert. I took the opportunity to see if I could get the Premier to commit to consider bringing in her own bill. Such a bill would modify the Human Rights Code to add explicit language identifying discrimination based on gender identity or expression as unacceptable in British Columbia.
Real leadership acts on good ideas regardless of where they come from. Real leadership has the well being of British Columbians at the heart of every decision. I am convinced that the Premier can be persuaded to make this a priority.
But as I note below, I understand that at times it’s very difficult to actually want to bring forward good legislation and rise above the partisanship when personal insults, vitriol and allegations are hurled back and forth.
The speaker ruled that I referred too extensively to the Private Member’s bill and so called for the next question without compelling an answer from the Premier. While obviously disappointed, I am still hopeful that the Premier will see the wisdom and merit in Spencer’s bill and rise above the catcalling that has been hurled her way during Question Period. After all, it’s 2016.
A. Weaver: Yesterday was a very fine day in British Columbia, as the government introduced the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy act. I was very pleased to see the government introduce this, and we’ll be debating it further.
Yesterday was also an important day, because another bill was brought to the Legislature, a bill entitled Gender Identity and Expression Human Rights Recognition Act. In that bill, ten words and a comma were proposed, ten words and comma which will have enormous implications to the acceptance — telling British Columbians that we are an accepting society. It’s essentially putting forward changes to the Human Rights Act.
Madame Speaker: Member.
A. Weaver: Yes?
Madame Speaker: The bill is before the House, currently.
A. Weaver: Correct.
My question to that, with respect, hon. Speaker, is as follows. Will the Premier consider…?
Madame Speaker: Member.
A. Weaver: Hon. Speaker, my question, then, is this: will the Premier introduce legislation along the lines of allowing changes to the human rights code to identify gender identity and expression as reasons not to have discrimination in British Columbia? This will send a signal to British Columbia, an important signal to British Columbia that we are an accepting society.
Madame Speaker: The bill is before the House. Next question; new question.
A. Weaver: I understand, hon. Speaker, in this House that, at times, personal allegations are hurled back and forth, and at times it’s very difficult to actually want to bring forward good legislation and rise above the partisanship. However, when good ideas are brought to this House, surely we can all rise above this partisanship.
Yesterday we had a good idea brought to this House. The good idea that was brought to this House was to say to the people of British Columbia that we will not discriminate against gender identity and gender expression.
My question to the government is: will the government consider introducing their own legislation to actually add words with respect to gender expression and gender identity in the human rights code to ensure that they are not discriminated against?
Madame Speaker: Member, the bill has been received, and first reading has been sent down for second reading.
VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay–Gordon Head, today encouraged B.C. Premier Christy Clark to embrace the Gender Identity and Expression Human Rights bill introduced to the Legislature yesterday by B.C. NDP MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert.
“Yesterday was a highlight of my time in political office because I was able to set aside political differences with the government and put forward good public policy in the form of the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act,” Weaver said. “Not every issue is partisan. In fact, good public policy should unite the Legislature. The issue of sexualized violence on B.C. campuses is one example. Mr. Chandra-Herbert’s bill is another.”
“I am sincerely hoping that Premier Clark will throw her government’s support behind this bill, as she has done with the B.C. Green Party bill to address sexualized violence at B.C. campuses. The B.C. Green Party has publicly supported Mr. Chandra-Herbert’s bill each time he has tabled it. As Premier Clark demonstrated in the case of the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act, real leadership acts on good ideas regardless of where they come from. Real leadership has the well being of British Columbians at the heart of every decision.”
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Mat Wright – Press Secretary
Office of MLA Andrew Weaver