It was meant to be a good news story: A unanimous vote in support of enshrining gender expression in the B.C. Human Rights Code.
But transgender advocates now say that historic move has been marred by an apparent slight by the Premier, who skipped the vote to attend a party fundraiser.
Morgane Oger with the Trans Alliance Society says it indicates the BC Liberals made the change based on “cynical pragmatic political calculus” in an election year, rather than an interest in protecting human rights.
“We were summoned up to give a big photo op for the Premier and make sure there was broad community support and we did our very best to not talk too much about how this had been done through gritted teeth. And then when I noticed that Christy Clark’s name was not on the list, I was outraged.”
Oger says she’s also upset 17 BC Liberal MLAs abstained from the vote, and that one made a lengthy speech on the bill in which he referred to the LGBTQ community as one who now “dominates in our society.”
She adds it’s particularly hurtful Clark missed a vote on human rights to attend a political event.
“The Premier of British Columbia is supposed to run the province, and is supposed to enact laws for the province. Fundraisers are a political activity, they’re supposed to be secondary. Her job that day was to be in the house, and to vote on that bill.”
The Premier’s office has since released a statement acknowledging the error, and pledging to avoid a repeat.
“This was an entirely avoidable mistake and we are disappointed in how we handled it. Monday’s event was long planned, but it could easily have been re-scheduled. Premier Clark has made it clear that we need to do better.”
Last year, the B.C. Liberals were banned from marching in Vancouver’s Pride Parade, after refusing to sign a pledge to advocate for explicit protection of trans rights in provincial and federal law.