Statement on Bill C-16 (Gender Identity and Gender Expression) Passing 3rd Reading (without a recorded vote)
Policy Discussions and Legislative Process
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Colleagues, last week Bill C-16, gender identity and gender expression, passed third reading in the other place without a recorded vote. This came on the heels of the Justice Committee refusing to hear from witnesses on this legislation. That's right, colleagues, no public hearings.
We should be so confident in the legislation that we bring forward, and certainly in the legislation we pass, that we are willing to have it withstand a thorough and rigorous vetting process.
Political correctness authoritarians have narrowed the scope of acceptable thought and discourse in academia and, by extension, the general public. However, we as legislators and public policy-makers should not be afraid of the difficult conversations. In fact, it is outrageous and irresponsible to do so. Legislation that has serious implications on freedom of speech — and, for the first time in Canadian law, compelled speech — cannot be passed so flippantly without thorough public discourse, debate and consideration.
I want to challenge my colleagues in the Senate Chamber to give this legislation its due diligence. As University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson said recently on this issue, we need to decide that speaking and acting in truth is imperative. Once we decide that we will not engage in manipulation of facts, regardless of the results, if it is based on telling the truth, that is always the best possible outcome.
I challenge my colleagues not to be silenced by the baseless character assassination, not to be silenced by those who want to throw out labels of bigotry and new phobias dreamt up every other week in social science departments in order to silence dissent.
Those who find this legislation to have some merit but are afraid to speak in its favour because they find the topic "difficult," and those who behind closed doors are vehemently opposed to this legislation but are not willing to speak to it publicly, please, by all means, let your voices be heard.
We are the chamber of sober second thought. We are legislators and policy-makers. It is our duty to look at fact, at science and at truth. A difficult and controversial topic with profound consequences should not generate less debate; it should generate more debate.
I want to ensure all of the outraged individuals who have emailed and called our office that the Senate will do a better job. When the House of Commons puts its electoral viability ahead of difficult conversations about policy, it has failed. Colleagues, let's not fall into the same trap. Let's have the difficult conversations. Let's do our jobs. We owe it to Canadians.