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Justin Trudeau: Appoint at least one LGBT person to the Senate

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Canadians elected a majority Liberal government on Oct 19, turning a page on a decade under Stephen Harper's Conservatives, who were rarely friendly with Canada's LGBT community. Justin Trudeau's Liberals have made a number of promises to the LGBT community, which, if carried out, will go a long way to repair the damage done under the Conservatives. 

It would be a great first step -- and symbol of goodwill to the LGBT community that so strongly supported Liberal candidates -- if Trudeau appointed at least one openly LGBT person to Canada's Senate in order to help amplify the voice of the community in Ottawa, and to turn the page on one of the worst legacies of the Harper years. 

In Canada, senators are appointed by the Prime Minister to represent the provinces in Ottawa, and they serve until mandatory retirement at age 75. Because Harper stopped appointing senators in the wake of a spending scandal, there are currently 22 vacancies in the 105-member chamber. Trudeau has pledged to fill the vacancies using a new non-partisan appointment process, selecting the best and brightest in Canada.

While some say the Senate is a relic that does not impact the law the way the House of Commons does, this disregards the role that senators (can and should) play studying and amending new legislation, and representing diverse voices in the legislative process.

In fact, one of the last things the Senate -- filled with Harper appointees -- did before the election was effectively kill a bill that had been passed in the House of Commons to add discrimination and hate crime protections for trans people to Canadian law. Trudeau has promised to bring the legislation back, but he'll need to work with the Senate to pass it.

It would be a very powerful symbol if among Trudeau's new senate appointees was an LGBT person, who could lead the debate in the Senate to pass the trans rights bill. In particular, Trudeau should appoint someone who is trans, a lesbian, two-spirit, or a queer person of colour, as these segments of the LGBT community have poor representation in Parliament. There are currently 6 gay and lesbian MPs and 1 lesbian senator, all white; the Liberal caucus has no lesbians. 

The LGBT community is large, diverse, and includes many people who are deeply involved with their communities and their country and would make excellent additions to the Senate. We urge you to include this community's voice in a meaningful way in the Senate.

After you sign this petition, consider listing some suggestions in the comments of people who would make great LGBT senators.

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