The grassroots revival of women taking on Bill C-16
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Shortly after the October 2019 election, Jennifer launched a House of Commons e-petition, and obtained the necessary 500 signatures. However, for an e-petition to receive parliamentary response, the petitioner must find an MP to take it on and present it. But the petitioner is limited to contacting a maximum of five MPs, and each MP is given 30 days to accept or decline the petition before their opportunity to sponsor the petition expires.
Jennifer started contacting Conservative MPs who had voted “no” to Bill C-16, and says she thought finding an MP to work with “would be a walk in the park.”
However, her first choice of MP, Candice Bergen, did not respond in 30 days, so the opportunity expired. The next MP, Diane Finley, declined the petition. Her third choice, Alain Rayes, sent her an email saying he would not take it on.
“This is a hot potato,” says Jennifer. “No one wants this.”
Esmerelda*, 55, is the creative communications director with Canadian Womens’ Sex-Based Rights (stylized as: caWsbar), an organization formed in December 2019 with a mission to get Bill C-16 repealed or “seriously examined.”
When Bill C-16 was being passed, “the whole nation was asleep,” says Esmerelda. Although high-profile speakers such as Jordan Peterson, Gad Saad, and Meghan Murphy testified against the bill in the Senate, Esmerelda contends that “the average Canadian has no interest in Senate hearings,” and that the initial discourse around Bill C-16 was mostly centered around pronouns and compelled speech, not the tensions and potential conflicts between the rights of trans people and the rights of women and children.