A private member's bill with roots in Burnaby on transgender and transsexual rights has risen again in Parliament.
The NDP's Randall Garrison, from the Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca riding, resurrected a bill to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. It would also change the Criminal Code of Canada to cover hate speech against transgender and transsexual people.
Former Burnaby MP Bill Siksay was the first to introduce previous incarnations of the bill in Parliament, but most reached first-reading stage only. Before Siksay retired from politics in 2011, he almost saw the bill become law when it passed third reading, but it died on paper at the Senate stage when the last federal election was called.
Siksay was pleased the bill may finally become law.
"I'm very excited about the prospect of it finally passing. It really looks positive at this point," he said in an interview with the NOW. "I think it's part of the puzzle - for improving things for trans folks in Canada."
The bill would protect transgender and transsexual people from discrimination in jobs that fall under federal jurisdiction, such as transportation, banking and communications, and trans people will be able to get proper identity documents.
Siksay was excited to see the bill get strong support from all parties, including the Conservatives.
"That made the difference for the bill in this reading. It was really exciting to see this move forward," Siksay said. "It's good news in that sense."
However, Siksay said there's more to be done to protect the rights of transgender and transsexual Canadians.
"Every day it changes, but if you talk to trans people you know discrimination is a reality of their lives. I think a big part of it is access to health care and coverage of gender reassignment surgery and related therapies," he said.