Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Jennifer Rice takes to Legislature floor to speak on Bill 27 changes to Human Rights Act

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice during
discussion of Bill 27 in the Legislature
This week's return of MLA's to Victoria has for the most part provided for discussion on two main themes that the Liberal Government has introduced.

A bid to reign in housing issues in the Metro Vancouver area and a key addition to the province's Human Rights Act to protect the rights of transgender persons in the province.

Monday afternoon found the latter issue as the main topic for consideration by members of the Legislature, with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice taking to the theme of protecting transgender people as part of the Act.

In her remarks to the Legislature, Ms. Rice noted that after hearing some of the comments from a few of the members of the Liberal party, that their contributions to the discussion were not quite as accepting of a more open, diverse and tolerant society as many others in the province are prepared to be.

"I started the day out feeling quite elevated and spirited, but I must admit that I'm quite taken aback by a couple of the last speakers on the opposite side of the House. I think, to quote the Prime Minister, it's 2016. 

Today would have been a good day to stay home or stay in the office because you're not contributing whatsoever — to portray trans people and the LGBT community as a special interest group with a big agenda. I can't believe that we're having this discussion in the House. Today marks a big step for British Columbia. It's a step towards a more open, diverse and tolerant society."

From the opening remarks, Ms. Rice then traced some of the past work from many advocates that have worked long towards inclusion of transgender British Columbians to the Human Rights Act, noting for the Legislature that even with the step of inclusion into the Bill, members of that community will still find discrimination and sadly in some cases, even violence in their lives.

She noted how the long overdue process now underway in the Legislature marks a step forward towards making British Columbia a more welcoming place for transgender and gender-variant in the province.

"We're here today to amend the B.C. human rights code to explicitly protect transgender people under the Human Rights Act. This is due to the tireless work of transgender activists and their allies. 

This includes organizations like the Trans Alliance, the Vancouver Pride Society, the B.C. Teachers Federation, West Coast LEAF and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and countless activists and the people that are in the gallery today. I must say to my colleague from the West End, I'm proud to be your colleague and I thank you for your tireless work."

She also pointed towards Prince Rupert, making mention of the city's Rainbow Pathway in the Cow Bay area as an important symbol of a community going in the right direction.

Calling on her own personal experiences through the years, the North Coast MLA offered some passionate comments on the issues facing those in the LGBTQ community and recounted the journeys that many have made through their lives, and how Bill 27 is an important step for the province.

The full contribution to the Legislature discussion can be found here from the Minutes of the Monday Afternoon session listed at the 16:04 mark.

Her comments are also presented in the Video Archive of the Legislature proceedings, which you can view from the Chamber Video section of the listings for Monday afternoon listed here.

More background on the work of the North Coast MLA at the Legislature can be found on our archive page here.

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