Monthly Archives: May 2019

Commons approves transgender rights bill – National

OTTAWA – A bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgender Canadians was approved by the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The Opposition private member’s legislation passed by a vote of 149-137, with the crucial support of 18 Conservatives, including four cabinet ministers.

It was one of the first tests of the Conservative caucus’ resolve on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) rights in Canada at a time when Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has been mounting a strong defence of such rights abroad.

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Baird, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt and Heritage Minister James Moore were among the Conservatives who supported the bill. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, most of his front bench and the vast majority of his backbenchers opposed it.

Opposition parties were united in their support for the bill, sponsored by New Democrat Randall Garrison.

MPs are generally free to vote as they see fit on private members’ bills.

“Today, New Democrats are proud to have contributed to ensuring equal protection under the law from discrimination and hatred based on gender identity,” Garrison said in a statement after the vote.

“Transgender and transsexual citizens are among the most marginalized and are too often victims of harassment and acts of violence.”

The bill had triggered vigorous, sometimes emotional debate in the Commons.

After passing at second reading last year — with the support of 15 Tories and another nine abstaining — the bill’s momentum seemed to falter as some Conservatives began to express reservations about its impact and effectiveness.

There were complaints that the language in the bill was confusing and vague, including the term “gender expression” and “gender identity.”

Garrison tried to strike a compromise by removing the term “gender expression.”

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel teared up in the Commons earlier this month as she spoke about the discrimination that transgender Canadians face, even as she questioned the bill’s effectiveness.

“Both sides of this debate should agree that equality and protection against harm are two fundamental values that all Canadians of any gender, any age, any background are entitled to,” Rempel said.

“However, as legislators we are also tasked with deciding if the proposed legislation is sound. Given the lack of clarity that I found in the bill, I do have concern about its viability.”

Other Conservative MPs opposed the bill on other grounds, such as the argument that pedophiles would be protected when they lurked in public bathrooms.

Shortly before the vote, Calgary MP Rob Anders tabled a petition “on behalf of thousands” of Canadians opposed to what he called “the bathroom bill.”

“These constituents feel that it is the duty of the House of Commons to protect and safeguard our children from any exposure and harm that would come from giving a man access to women’s public washroom facilities,” Anders said.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal had supported adding transgender identity to federal anti-discrimination and anti-hate legislation, saying it would promote acceptance and send a message about tolerance.

While some MPs argued that the transgendered were already protected on the basis of sex and disability, the tribunal said it would be better to have explicit protection so that the question is not perpetually challenged.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said 16 Conservatives had supported the bill.

©2013The Canadian Press

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Highways continue to be a priority for the Saskatchewan government

REGINA – The Saskatchewan government will continue to make a sizable commitment to improving highways and roads in the province.

The 2013 budget includes $576 million for building and maintaining provincial roadways, part of the government’s promise to spend $2.2 billion over four years to improve roads and infrastructure.

The highway construction budget is pegged at $280.8 million.

Of that, $68.6 million is going to major, multi-year projects such as the Estevan truck bypass, passing lanes on Highway 10 and the west Regina bypass.

Another $168.1 million is tagged for repairs and upgrades including grading and paving the Dalmeny access road and upgrading Highway 22 from Southey to Earl Gray.

Additionally, $86.3 million will be spend to repave at least 280 kilometres of highways and another $81.8 million will go for local infrastructure to upgrade a further 75 km of highways to a higher standard.

The budget also provides $6 million to SaskBuilds for preparatory work on a number of public-private partnerships including Regina’s bypass infrastructure.

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  • Health spending increases, health regions tasked to find millions in efficiencies

  • Saskatchewan government commits to more affordable housing

  • More money for schools in Saskatchewan budget

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Winnipeg better place to live than Toronto, Vancouver: report – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – Winnipeg is a better place to live than Toronto and Vancouver, according to the results of a new list from MoneySense magazine, which ranked the top 200 best places to live in Canada.

Winnipeg placed fifth out of major Canadian cities (population 400,000 or more) in front of Toronto (seventh) and Vancouver (10th). Winnipeg also ranked 16th overall among 200 large, medium and small cities. Calgary was ranked the top major city.

The list rates cities large and small on 33 categories ranging from wealth to weather.

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  • Vancouver 10th best large city in Canada according to Moneysense

Winnipeg performed well in”‘access to health care” and for having healthy population growth. The Manitoba capital performed lower than average in crime , average household income (among major cities) and for having less than the average number of days above 0 C.

But that number was offset by a low number of rainy days (77). Vancouver had 166.

“It’s a bit of give and take,” said Mark Brown, managing editor of MoneySense. “It depends on what you prefer – cold and sunny or slightly warmer and dreary.”

When shown the list, many Winnipeggers appeared surprised their city cracked the top 20.

“I just thought (Winnipeg was) middle of the road,” said Greg Smith. “I thought there were other places that have a lot more to offer than Winnipeg.”

“(Winnipeggers) know that there are some sort of shortcomings and I think for some reason, we feel like we’re the only city that has them,” said Bill Morrissey, leader of Yes! Winnipeg. “But every other city has them.”

Rural Manitoba communities were also featured among the 200. Steinbach was second highest in Manitoba, coming in at 61st (66th in 2012). Brandon was 91st (sixth in 2012), Portage la Prairie was 160th (49th) and Thompson was 164th (103rd). Money Sense said stunted population growth was the reason for Brandon’s slide.

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Saskatchewan government commits to more affordable housing

REGINA – The Saskatchewan government reaffirmed its commitment to affordable housing in the 2013 budget.

The province says it will continue on its promise to invest $344 million to create 12,600 new housing units by 2016.

Habitat for Humanity will see its funding doubled to $2 million, which the government says will support the development of 40 homeowner units in the province.

A new student residence is also in the works for Regina, with $10 million going toward the proposed 605-bed project at the University of Regina.

Funding for the rental construction incentive and the affordable homeownership program is increasing by $3.5 million to $7.2 million.

The programs provide incentives to property developers and municipalities to provide matching grants and assistance to homeowners purchasing a new principle residence.

There is also $9.2 million for the final year of the three-year federal/provincial affordable housing agreement to increase the supply of new affordable homes, renovations, adaptations and rent and housing supplements.

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Related

  • Balanced but controlled highlights Saskatchewan’s budget, NDP calls it a credit card budget

  • Health spending increases, health regions tasked to find millions in efficiencies

  • More money for schools in Saskatchewan budget

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