11 March 2015
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I rise to express great pride in something that occurred in Alberta yesterday, which underscores, underlines and emphasizes yet again why I, my colleagues from Alberta and all Canadians should be — and are — very proud of Alberta.
Yesterday, in the first session in 2015 of the Alberta legislature, the Alberta government, under Premier Jim Prentice, did three remarkable things. They changed legislation allowing and making mandatory gay-straight alliance groups in schools where any student requests one. Second, they established that parents cannot remove children from classes where sexual orientation is being taught. Third, which is very relevant to our discussion now with Bill C-279, they made another amendment that has added gender expression and gender identity to the grounds for which Albertans will be protected from discrimination.
That has been included in the Alberta Bill of Rights. This is the province of Alberta, where 27 of 28 members of Parliament are in the Conservative government, where a huge majority of Conservatives have been joined by a significant number of Wildrose members, where the Wildrose Party itself supported these amendments. This is a province that many people believe to be quite conservative — small C and large C conservative. This is a province that has made a breakthrough step literally within hours of first opening their session in 2015.
It's particularly relevant to Bill C-279 that we have had two years of debate on. We are now on the precipice of the final stage of passing a bill that would recognize gender identity. All we need to do to make it as good as the initiative that was undertaken in Alberta is remove the amendments.
I raise that and draw to the attention of our colleagues that Alberta has made a tremendous breakthrough and provides and emphasizes tremendous leadership in this important area of rights. I am extremely happy and proud to be an Albertan today.