Remarks on the launch of Canada’s first Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan
Hello everyone. Happy Pride!
Thank you, Mona, for that introduction. Thank you, Jenna, for all your work.
Verna, thank you for those words of welcome onto traditional territory. It is so important that we recognize the caretakers of the land, past, present, and future. Geneviève, thank you for your leadership. Thank you to all my friends and colleagues. There’s a lot of work to do and, Marci, I am so happy you’re there to do it.
To begin with, I just want to take a moment, alongside all Canadians, to reflect on our friends in Pakistan who are suffering through horrific floods right now. The devastating impact that these are having on people across the country is something we’re all watching with sorrow and support. Canada will continue to provide support through the UN and through the Red Cross.
Like so many Canadians, I am thinking of the people affected by the devastating floods in Pakistan. Canada will continue to be there through organizations like the United Nations and the Red Cross, but we are all thinking on this beautiful day here in Ottawa of those who are facing extremely difficult times on the other side of the planet.
Can I tell you how great it’s been to see pride events coming back in person again this year? Just being crowded into this room right now and celebrating is a great, great feeling.
Pride is a fantastic tradition and a truly meaningful one for all Canadians. It’s about fully embracing something that’s so Canadian: being proud of who we are, of what we are, of whom we love and celebrating that and celebrating each other in the fullest way that highlights what makes such a vibrant community. Since Day One, our government has been committed to protecting the rights of two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and additional sexuality and gender-diverse people. That’s why I’m so excited today to announce a historic first, the launch of Canada’s first ever 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan.
This is a whole-of-government plan that will guide our ongoing work to fight discrimination, to break down barriers, to advance rights and to build a future where everyone in Canada is truly free to be who they are and love whom they love.
We have worked with community leaders, researchers and organizations to ensure that this plan meets the needs of Canadians, and we will be investing $100 million over five years.
Go ahead. You can applaud $100 million.
A large portion of that money, $75 million, is going to go directly to organizations in the community because that is where the real work of support and assistance is done.
The strength and the resilience of your community should inspire everyone. We see it in your advocacy, your outreach to vulnerable people and the work you do every day to make your community more inclusive and diverse in every possible way. Our government will never stop fighting to protect and support your rights and freedoms. Five years ago, we passed legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. We’ve welcomed thousands of refugees fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. And this year, legislation was passed to end what was called conversion therapy, which was actually a cruel and dangerous practice.
And I am always very pleased to see a Pride flag proudly waving over Parliament Hill.
We know there’s still a lot of work to be done, and with this new action plan, we will continue to move forward together.
Lots more work to do, but we have together made tremendous strides here in Canada, which is important, but is important as well as we’ve seen rights moving backwards in many parts of the world, some closer than we’d like to admit. We need to continue to stand up to show what a truly positive, inclusive, strong society looks like, and that means everyone working together and calling out what we see and showing what a truly inclusive society looks like.
And that’s why before I wrap today, I want to take a moment to address in part the video we saw this weekend of the Deputy Prime Minister being subjected to some extremely disturbing harassment and threats. And this is not an isolated incident. Sadly, this is something we’re seeing more and more of. Certainly, members of this community have seen it, but we’re seeing increasingly people in public life, people in positions of responsibility, particularly women, racialized Canadians, people of minority or different community groups being targeted almost because of the increasing strength of your voices, your positions, of the impact you’re having around the world and around our country.
We’re seeing a backlash and we’ve seen it, first of all, over the past many years anytime a woman speaks up on social media, she is so often subject to harassment and toxicity, that we’re actually seeing her rights and her voice, and her freedom of expression diminished. We need more women and racialized Canadians and diverse communities to be strong voices in politics, in media, where we’re seeing reporters increasingly getting attacked for calling out hatred and indifference and discrimination. We have to ask ourselves what kind of country we are, what kind of country we want to be.
Discrimination, hatred, intimidation of women, racialized women, members of disadvantaged and minority communities are increasingly being attacked in the public sphere, especially when they dare to exert power or serve the community. We have some serious thinking to do as a society about how we are going to respond as a society, what kind of world and country we want to build, what sort of message we want to give to future generations. I am very happy to have members of my Prime Minister’s Youth Council here.
Thank you for being here.
But we are in a moment where we need responsible leadership to be there, to say, no, this is not acceptable in our democracy, this is not acceptable in Canada, and to be there to push back against hate.
Threats, violence, intimidation of any kind are always unacceptable, and this kind of cowardly behaviour threatens and undermines our democracy and our values of openness and respect upon which Canada was built. As leaders, we need to call this out and take a united stance against it because no matter who you are, who you love, the colour of your skin, how you pray, where you’re from, your gender, you deserve respect, and you deserve to live in peace without fear of threats or violence.
And I can tell you that I, our colleagues on the stage, and indeed our government will always fight for this, particularly through today as we celebrate Pride in our capital city, but every day as well. Canada is an accepting place. That’s what Canada is about, and it’s a huge part of what makes us all so proud to be Canadian. So let us make sure we are stepping up, that we are not just watching, that we are standing up actively, every day in our ways with the strengths that each of us have to fight against hatred, discrimination, and reject the fear that is creeping into our society.
And today, especially, we celebrate. Happy Pride, everyone.