A Conservative leadership hopeful claims he was fighting back against the “radical, looney left” when he became the only MP to vote against a private member’s bill to establish a “Gender Equality Week.”
Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost made the comment in an email to supporters Thursday, with the subject line: “YEAS: 287, NAYS: 1.”
Those numbers represent the recorded vote from the night before on Bill C-309, introduced by Liberal MP Sven Spengemann, which seeks to have the first week in October designated as a celebration of gender equality.
Brad Trost speaks at a Conservative leadership debate in Greely, Ont., on Nov. 13, 2016. (Photo: Fred Chartrand/CP)
Seventy-two of Trost’s Conservative colleagues voted for the bill, including interim leader Rona Ambrose and leadership candidates Michael Chong, Maxime Bernier, and Erin O’Toole. Twenty-four other Tory MPs did not vote, either by choice or because they were not in attendance, including leadership candidates Andrew Scheer, Steven Blaney, Kellie Leitch, Deepak Obhrai, and Lisa Raitt.
Trost, an avowed social conservative, said in the release that he couldn’t support the bill because it contained a “full-meal-deal of cringe-worthy, left-wing grievances and theories.”
He included the full text of the bill in his message and asked supporters to read it themselves.
“Instead of asking why I refuse to support this left-wing grudge list, ask yourself how any principled conservative would — or could — support it, and still look themselves in the mirror,” Trost said.
Spengemann’s bill contains a lengthy preamble that notes “challenges faced by Canadian women” — including a wage gap and gender-based violence — are also experienced “by individuals of minority gender identity and expression.”
"Instead of asking why I refuse to support this left-wing grudge list, ask yourself how any principled conservative would — or could — support it, and still look themselves in the mirror."
The bill states “poverty and inequality disproportionately affect Canadian women, particularly elderly, disabled, transgender and visible minority women, leaving them isolated and vulnerable.”
C-309 acknowledges how transgender women in visible minority groups are at an increased risk of isolation and violence. It also spells out how indigenous women are “disproportionately affected by gender-based violence and sexual exploitation,” and face barriers to education and employment.
The bill will be read a second time and referred to the standing committee on the Status of Women.
Trost against transgender rights bill
When Spengemann tabled the bill in September, he told the House a gender equality week would present an opportunity to address challenges faced by Canadian women and “individuals of minority gender identity and expression.”
Spengemann said the bill would also “underscore the role men need to play to establish a gender-equal society in Canada.”
This is not the first time Trost has railed against a bill discussing the challenges faced by transgender Canadians. He is a vocal critic of Liberal government’s transgender rights Bill C-16, tabled last spring, which seeks to make it illegal under the Canadian Human Rights Act to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression.
Though the bill easily passed second reading in the House in October by a vote of 248 to 40, it has sparked division among Tories.
Chong, Bernier, O’Toole, Obhrai, Raitt, and Blaney all voted to support C-16.
Prominent Tory MP Michelle Rempel also delivered an emotional speech to the House in November in which she said she was wrong to have previously voted against similar legislation.
“I believe in the capacity of my colleagues across party lines to be compassionate, to be strong, to stand up for Canada, and to stand up for what is good, what is just and what is beautiful,” Rempel said at the time.
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