Open Letter to Candice Hoeppner

Sister Robyn Benson writes to Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner condemning her decisino to no support Bill-C389, the important piece of legislation that would give transgender and transsexual people protection under federal human rights and hate crime legislation.


Dear Ms. Hoeppner:

I was disappointed to read the letter from your office, forwarded by your constituent Gus Mardli, in response to his request for you to vote in favour of Bill C-389.

The response, as you know, expressed your disinterest to support the important piece of legislation that would give transgender and transsexual people protection under federal human rights and hate crime legislation. You call the Bill “unnecessary” and “redundant” and criticize its lack of clear definitions.

If the bill doesn’t provide definitions, then call for revisions to add clarity. If the proposed legislation is, in your words, “redundant”, then contemplate why MP Bill Siksay has spent the past six years working on it.

You also claim that “This Government is proud … [and] deeply committed to the principles of respect for diversity and equality,” but this statement is so far from reality, it’s laughable. Need I remind you of the numerous disgraces this Government has been responsible for in the past year alone?

You have opposed Pay Equity and ensuring that women receive equal pay for work of equal value, denied funding to a record number of women’s organizations that previously qualified for funding, closed Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax, removed references to same sex marriage from the guide for new citizens and began profiting from government employee parking lots, a move which will gravely affect workers with disabilities for years to come.

If these are examples of a government that prides itself on “diversity and equality”, I’m curious how you define diversity and equality. The whole basis of Bill C-389 is equality and basic human rights. If you and your government pride yourselves in these areas, you should have no problem supporting this Bill.

For further clarification on the “unclear” definitions employed in Bill C-389, I encourage you to consult PFLAG Canada (http://www.pflagcanada.ca/en/index-e.asp), a beneficial GLBT resource site. You may also want to consider registering yourself for Gender Identity Training for Service Providers at the Rainbow Resource Centre. To be placed on a waiting list for the next available training session, contact Reece Malone at education@rainbowresourcecentre.org or (204) 284-5590.

Transgender persons deserve the same protections, with explicit recognition in the Canadian Human Rights Act. With one vote, you can help to make transgender persons visible in society and keep them safe in their homes, workplaces and communities.

In Solidarity,

Robyn Benson
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies