Bruce Pardy does an excellent job of outlining the very real concern that Bill C-16 will compel speech. We can now only hope the courts will acknowledge that gender rights are belief-based and treat them accordingly.
Gender is not like race, colour, sex, or marital status, which are all determined by objective criteria. Gender is subjectively determined on the basis of a personal belief. This means that gender rights are similar to religious rights. And with religious rights, you have the right to your belief, but the government cannot compel anyone else to endorse your beliefs.
Yet, if government compels the use of gender- neutral pronouns, this is exactly what it will be doing: Compelling others to endorse a belief they may not share. This is not only contemptible, it is unconstitutional.
At Senate committee meetings on Bill C-16, I introduced an amendment to clarify that gender rights are belief-based and that the state is forbidden from compelling belief. Although supported by my Conservative colleagues, the amendment was unanimously rejected by liberal and in- dependent senators. This is regrettable. What should have been clarified by Parliament will now have to be tackled in the courts at great cost.
– Senator Betty Unger ( Alberta)