Friends, we are in a critical fight to protect our Charter rights.
Many of you know about the tide of anti-trans protests, disguised in the divisive rhetoric of “parents’ rights”, organized by the far-right a couple of weeks ago. We organized counter protests and showed up in numbers with our love and solidarity.
Now, following in those hate-filled footsteps, the right-wing government of Scott Moe in Saskatchewan has declared war on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – and he’s using trans kids as weapons in his fictional culture war. Earlier this year, Saskatchewan tried to pass legislation requiring teachers to disclose to parents if students were using different pronouns at school – endangering the lives of trans youth who don’t live in safe spaces. This requirement goes against well-established legal precedents on the rights of children.
On September 29, a local judge granted an injunction to temporarily block this legislation. In response to the injunction, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is recalling the legislature early on Tuesday, October 10, to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause of the Charter to bypass the injunction and override our democratic processes to ram through this harmful legislation.
You may recall that the Notwithstanding Clause was more recently floated by Ford last November to preemptively override the rights of CUPE education workers to strike. The use of the Notwithstanding Clause means that the government is fully aware they are violating Canadians’ Charter Rights and Freedoms through legislation. Moe and his government are hoping this latest attempt will fly under the radar and generate little resistance, so we need to organize in support of trans kids, and we need to do it now.
The Saskatchewan government is planning to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause against a minority population on the basis that public opinion demands it. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms exists precisely to ensure that this cannot happen. In a democracy, the rights of equity-deserving groups should not be held hostage to public opinion, let alone to score political points.
If this legislation is allowed to pass unchallenged, then we’ll likely see similar moves by provincial governments across the country in the coming weeks. Despite being presented under the guise of “protecting children”, we all know this is a tactic to turn people against marginalized communities, in this case the trans community. They deserve our whole-hearted support and solidarity.
But it’s also bigger than the trans community in Saskatchewan. We’ve already heard rumours of similar legislative action in other provinces, including Ontario. If Premier Moe is successful, we’re headed down a dangerous path that will lead to the further erosion of the rights of other equity-deserving groups and of the rights of labour unions like ours. That’s why we need to raise our voices and show up in solidarity right now. If they get away with this, who knows which community they’ll attack next. This is a classic conservative tactic – to emphasize and exploit our differences, in order to divide us. Instead, we will do the harder work of embracing our commonalities.
The ease with which this provincial government is invoking the Notwithstanding Clause is a threat to all unions. The entire system of protections for human rights and freedoms, including labour rights – like the right to assembly and the right to protest – is at risk here. We need to stand in solidarity every time a government threatens to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause to attack our rights, override judicial timelines and democratic processes.
An attack on one of us, is an attack on all of us!
The fight for the rights of trans children in Saskatchewan is important on its own but this has now become much bigger than that. All minority rights are at risk. All unions are at risk. All workers and families are at risk. We must harness our collective power as unions, as workers, and as communities to push back. The future of our rights and freedoms depends on it.
We’ve done it before, and we can do it again. We fought the Ford government with the power of worker solidarity, and we WON! Three days ago, the people of Manitoba said no to a racist, queer and transphobic party to elect an inclusive and diverse NDP government. When we come together with love and solidarity, we WIN!
Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) President, Bea Bruske, has made an appeal to CLC affiliates to support the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour’s planned protest at the Legislature on October 10 at 12 PM. That’s the day Premier Moe is recalling the Legislature to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause.
We are encouraging all our friends and allies to send as many representatives as possible to attend the rally and provide what support you can to show the Moe government, and governments around the country, that the labour movement will not sit idly by when anyone’s rights are under attack. We will always show up in solidarity. Reach out beyond your usual networks – bring your friends, bring your families. This may be about trans kids in Saskatchewan today, but tomorrow, it will be about all of us.
We know our history. We know how easy it is to remain silent in the face of attacks on communities we aren’t members of. But we must remember, that in recognizing our past mistakes and where it leads, we must also learn from them. We must organize now and speak out as one to change our future.
For more information, please visit https://egale.ca/
See here to call on the federal Government to act for queer safety: https://www.momentumcanada.net/act4queersafety
Click here for Workers in Transition – the CLC’s guide for union representatives and trans union members: https://canadianlabour.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/WorkersInTransition-Guide-EN.pdf
With love and solidarity,
JP Hornick and Laurie Nancekivell