Gerry Rogers Question Period (05.28.2012)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, recently the Minister of Justice said in the media that they were monitoring other jurisdictions to see how whistleblower legislation works out before they make any decisions. Mr. Speaker, I think we can all agree that five years of monitoring is long enough. This issue demands leadership, and waiting on other jurisdictions is not a satisfactory answer.

I ask the minister: Why won’t this government take action to craft their own piece of legislation and protect whistleblowers? The people of Newfoundland are waiting.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. F. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I said in this House on a number of occasions that whistleblower legislation is a very comprehensive, tedious, significant piece of legislation. We have certainly done a lot of jurisdictional scanning, and continue to do so.

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out, as I pointed out to the media, we have whistleblower protection in a number of pieces of legislation in this government. I outlined those acts to the media: the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Environmental Protection Act. I cannot recall, Mr. Speaker; I remember giving at least half a dozen to the media at the time; plus the fact, Mr. Speaker, in the Criminal Code of Canada there is provision that makes it a criminal offence to penalize an employee for retaliation or intimidation in the workplace.

Mr. Speaker, every bit of whistleblower protection that our employers need is there. When we find something better in the way of a whistleblower piece of legislation then we will certainly look at it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, another tedious and complex one coming your way. The inclusion of gender identity in our Human Rights Act is yet another issue we have been told will take time as the government monitors the work, yet again, of other jurisdictions.

Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories has gender identity enshrined in their Human Rights legislation, and the governments of Manitoba and Ontario are taking the necessary steps for theirs.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister: What will it take for this government to lead on this issue and do what is necessary to extend protections to one of the most vulnerable groups in our society?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. F. COLLINS: Mr. Speaker, as can be found in the consultations for the Human Rights Act, the issue of gender identity is still evolving in this country and needs a lot of analysis before we can bring in anything specific in our piece of legislation. True, the Northwest Territories does have a provision that identifies gender identity. They do not define gender identity; neither does the Province of Manitoba.

Mr. Speaker, in the consultations, the Newfoundland-Labrador Human Rights and Gender Identity Working Group pointed out to us how difficult it was to pin down gender identity. For example, gender identity and gender expression are not interchangeable. Transsexual and transgender are not interchangeable.

Mr. Speaker, we had eleven different definitions of gender identity. We have all included under the (?) phrase on the grounds of sex (?). All of the complaints are received under that ground.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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