OTTAWA, Canada, February 22, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Conservative leadership hopeful Maxime Bernier has dropped his support for the Liberal transgender bill.
Bernier is urging the Senate to defeat the measure after talking with embattled Toronto free speech professor Jordan Peterson.
Bernier, one of the strongest candidates for the Tory party leadership, revealed in a Facebook post he no longer supports Bill C-16, the trans rights bill, that he voted for in the House of Commons.
“Ì regret my decision to vote for Bill C-16. If the vote were held again today, I would oppose it,” he stated. The bill “could seriously threaten free speech in our country” under the guise of protecting so-called “transgenders” from hate speech or discrimination.
Bernier, who usually takes a libertarian position on social conservative issues, also used Facebook to explain his opposition to Motion-103, which condemned “Islamophobia.”
On Facebook, he lumped C-16 and M-103 together as “two threats to freedom of speech,” even though he initially supported C-16’s protection of trans individuals from hatred and discrimination.
However, he changed his mind after a January 30 telephone discussion with Peterson, a University of Toronto psychology professor. Peterson has run afoul of university authorities for opposing a push for staff members to use trans pronouns in speaking with or about trans individuals.
LGBT activists want all people to use pronouns such as “ze” and “xyr” for individuals who claim to belong to genders other than male or female. Peterson argues that this is a violation of his freedom of speech. Bill C-16 would add “gender identity” and “gender expression” to Criminal Code anti-hate provisions and the Human Rights Act’s protection against discrimination.
The problem, Peterson argues, is that it forces all Canadians, under pain of fines and imprisonment, to speak as if they believe there are 30 to 50 genders. If challenging this idea publicly makes gender-confused individuals “feel” threatened, then the laws click in with potential investigations, trials, fines, and jail terms.
Bernier echoed Peterson’s argument with the statement that some of the sexual minority activists “are radical left-wing activists trying to deconstruct traditional social norms.” As well, they want to “impose their marginal perspective on everyone, including by forcing us to change the way we talk.”
Bernier also condemned M-103 for its potential to limit free speech about Islam. “Although it condemns all forms of religious discrimination, the motion only mentions specifically one religion, Islam.”
He noted that several European countries are banning criticism of Islam using anti-hate and anti-discrimination laws. This was a bad idea for two reasons, Bernier said. It would restrict discussion of the threat of Islamic terrorism, and it would violate “everyone’s fundamental right to believe in and criticize whatever belief they want. Whether it is Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, atheism, and any other.”
Bernier’s basic appeal is to economic conservatives who believe in free markets and small government. On social/moral issues such as abortion, he has promised to allow free votes. Both positions set him apart from media personality Kevin O’Leary, who pronounced that the Tories under his leadership would have no place for social issues or those who promote them.
Bernier has the support of 20 MPs, ex-MPs, and Senators. However, polling shows O’Leary in the lead in a race that includes two explicit pro-lifers, Brad Trost and Pierre Lemieux.