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Human rights meets bizarro Canada

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Canada is on the global map this week, and not for a good reason. Long known as a champion of human rights, our nation is now being celebrated as a champion of human idiocy. Canada is the place – so far the only place – where a human-rights tribunal is actually holding a hearing to determine whether a transgender woman’s rights have been violated because she couldn’t get her testicles waxed.

If you’re late to this bizarre tale, here’s a summary. The complainant, Jessica Yaniv, was born a man who now identifies as a woman. She asserts that because she identifies as a woman, she deserves the same right to service as any woman – even though her genitalia are in an unaltered state. In this case, the service she wants is a groin wax, also known as a Brazilian – which amounts to full hair removal in the genital area. Never mind that Ms. Yaniv’s genitals consist of a penis and testicles. So long as she identifies as a woman, she maintains, that should make no difference.

To pursue her groundbreaking case, Ms. Yaniv – who likes to dress up in tiaras and fairy princess gowns – has lodged human-rights complaints against more than a dozen small businesses after they declined to wax her private parts. Many of these services, as described in the human rights tribunal documents, are operated by immigrant women with limited English who want to make a few extra dollars to support their families. Some of them hold religious beliefs that prohibit contact with the genitalia of an unrelated male. As Sukhi Hehar Gill, a practising Sikh, explained in her response to the complaint, providing service to someone who is biologically male is “contrary to my faith.”

There’s also a practical reason why Ms. Yaniv might be turned away. Waxing a scrotum calls for a special technique, requiring skills that most salon workers don’t possess and probably have no interest in acquiring.

Imagine being a recent immigrant living in Surrey, trying to make ends meet. The next thing you know – wham! You’re slapped with a human-rights complaint you can’t understand from a quasi-judicial body you’ve never heard of. Welcome to Canada.

Jay Cameron, a lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, is acting for Ms. Gill and several other respondents. “The impact on their lives has been profound,” he told me in an interview. “One woman went to 16 different lawyers before she found us. She said they wouldn’t take her case because they were afraid of the optics or afraid they’d be accused of transphobia.”

Until this month, the British Columbia human-rights tribunal had granted Ms. Yaniv a publication ban so that she could pursue her cause in blissful anonymity. The tribunal finally allowed her name to be published because her presence on social media is so ubiquitous that anonymity is not possible. Meanwhile, her targets have been publicly branded as bigots and transphobes.

Ms. Yaniv is hardly the ideal complainant. She has come under fire for online comments she has made about South Asians. The human-rights tribunal stated that it was “troubled” with some of her messages, which suggest she “holds stereotypical and negative views about immigrants to Canada.” It’s too bad the human-rights tribunal didn’t do a background check before it took her on, because she has probably set the cause of trans rights back by many years.

In the hierarchy of victimhood, transgender rights are suddenly at the very top. And the tribunal wants you to know that its decision was far from frivolous. In one recent ruling, the tribunal expressed its concern about the “rights” of transgender women to access “gender affirming” care such as waxing, which it describes as “critical.” It stated that Ms. Yaniv has a “genuine grievance” about “pervasive discrimination against transgender women,” and this “is the reason that the Tribunal exists.”

Absurd as it seems, the case of the unwaxed testicles is simply the logical outcome of current gender ideology, which holds that you are who you say you are and physiology is irrelevant. It is the reason why trans women have been sent to women’s prisons. It’s why teenagers who identify as girls are allowed in some places to compete against biological girls (with predictable results). It is also the reason why the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter – Canada’s oldest women’s shelter – was stripped of city funding because it refuses to accept transgender women. It argues that women who’ve been traumatized by men do not welcome the presence of trans women. Trans activists say the centre is guilty of “supporting transphobia.”

It’s one thing to agree – as most of us do – that in our free and open society, people should have the right to to self-identify in whatever way they wish. But it’s another thing entirely to compel others to validate that self-identity. Human-rights tribunals don’t seem to care about this distinction. And as long as they embrace causes that seem ludicrous to the general public, the farther they will fall into disrepute. If they knew what’s good for them, they’d stop harassing salon workers before it’s too late.

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Trudeau remains under increased security

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High profile security surrounds Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as he arrives at a rally in Mississauga, Ont., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. The Rally was delayed for 90 minutes due to a security issue.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau remained under increased security Sunday morning, with tactical security officers and sniffer dogs accompanying the Liberal campaign as it departed downtown Toronto.

The increased presence comes a day after Mr. Trudeau wore a protective vest under his shirt at a rally in Mississauga, Ontario. His campaign has been tight-lipped about the reasons for the increased presence but the Liberal leader is scheduled to speak with reporters Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Trudeau didn’t appear to be wearing a protective vest on Sunday.

At his Saturday night rally Mr. Trudeau arrived at the event 90 minutes late wearing the vest under his shirt and suit jacket and was accompanied by tactical security officers wearing backpacks. More than 2,000 people were in attendance. Cameron Ahmad, a spokesperson for the Liberals, said the campaign had no comment about the delay or increased security for Mr. Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, was also supposed to speak at the rally Saturday but didn’t end up attending. Mr. Ahmad declined to comment on the change of plans.

Mr. Trudeau is scheduled to speak to reporters at a food drive in Liberal candidate Ahmed Hussen’s riding of York South-Weston Sunday afternoon.

He will then make whistle stops with Liberal candidates in Newmarket and Richmond Hill, followed by a visit to a Hindu temple in Etobicoke. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is campaigning in B.C. on Sunday and will vote in advance polls in his Burnaby South riding. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is not campaigning today.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh walks along Bloor Street during a campaign stop in Toronto on Saturday, October 12, 2019.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

The Liberal campaign is targeting the NDP amid the party’s rise in the polls. Mr. Trudeau held a rally with nearly 500 people in Burnaby Friday night, but didn’t mention the NDP or Mr. Singh, who is riding high on the positive attention he received following his debates appearances.

However, the Liberal leader changed tactic Saturday night at the Mississauga rally, taking aim at Mr. Singh. “Remember this: The NDP couldn’t stop [Stephen] Harper. They couldn’t stop Ford. And they can’t stop Scheer,” Mr. Trudeau told the crowd in Mississauga. “The only way to stop Conservative cuts is to vote Liberal.”

The increased focus on the NDP comes as polling from Nanos Research shows growing support for the New Democrats.

According to Sunday’s daily tracking survey from Nanos Research, the Liberals and Conservatives are deadlocked at 32 per cent support each. The New Democrats are up five points since Friday and now sit at 20 per cent, with the Greens at 9 per cent, the Bloc Québécois at 6 per cent and the People’s Party at 1 per cent.

The poll was sponsored by The Globe and Mail and CTV, with a total of 1,200 Canadians surveyed from Oct. 11 to Oct. 13. It has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Respondents were asked: “If a federal election were held today, could you please rank your top two current local voting preferences?” A report on the results, questions and methodology for this and all surveys can be found at http://tgam.ca/election-polls.

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The week before Election Day

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With advance polls open and just eight days left on the campaign trail, election strategists convened on the West Block to dish out some advice for federal party leaders.

The most recent Ipsos poll conducted for Global News showed the Liberals and Conservatives virtually tied, with support for the Liberals at 35 per cent and for the Tories at 34 per cent.

The same poll showed the NDP in a remote third spot, at 15 per cent. The Liberals and Conservatives were also in a tight race in two battleground provinces: Ontario and B.C.

Last few days of campaign

The challenge for incumbent Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau is that he is not just defending his record as prime minister, but also defending against the progressive platforms touted by both the Green Party and the NDP, according to Liberal strategist Richard Mahoney.

“But he’s going to have to try and convince Canadians over the course of this last week … that his program is the most realistic,” Mahoney said. “That’s the challenge for his last nine days.”

With a little more than a week left in the campaign, Trudeau will have to “contrast himself against Mr. Scheer.”

The last Ipsos poll saw 35 per cent of respondents cite Trudeau as the party leader who would make the best prime minister, with Scheer coming in second and polling at 30 per cent.

The Conservative Party released their fully costed platform on Friday, proposing various tax relief measures as well as tens of billions of dollars worth of federal budget cuts, with the goal of eliminating the deficit within five years.

9:24
Conservative election platform will mean longer waits for municipalities seeking federal funds

Conservative election platform will mean longer waits for municipalities seeking federal funds

This put the Liberal Party on the attack, with Trudeau criticizing the Tories for releasing their platform late in the campaign and saying the proposed cuts were “deeper” than those proposed by Ontario premier Doug Ford.

Conservative strategist Fred DeLorey called it a “prudent platform” that cuts out “wasteful spending.”

But NDP strategist Anne McGrath said the Tories’ fiscal plan — which includes cutting consulting costs and selling federal real estate while maintaining existing public servant levels — left them vulnerable to “parody.”

“It’s a little bit ridiculous to think that you can get that much money out of reducing the size of people’s desks and that sort of thing,” she said. “But the cuts themselves are very serious and quite severe.”

Scheer’s campaign appears to be “more about what’s wrong with Mr. Trudeau,” Mahoney said.

“The release of the platform this week on the eve of Thanksgiving weekend shows he’s really playing to the core of his support rather than reaching out to a broader coalition of people and say ‘Elect me prime minister and I’ll move the country forward,’” he said.





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The lighter side of the campaign trail

The lighter side of the campaign trail

Debate analysis

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s debate performances garnered some praise from the strategists.

Mahoney noted that the English debate’s format — with multiple moderators and six party leaders — was a bit “convoluted.”

“There are just too many topics, too many leaders, maybe too many moderators, and not enough chance for people to get a sense of it,” he said.

But while Trudeau was, as expected, attacked from all sides, Singh came out as a “kind of chill dude.”

“He seemed kind of relaxed and there was a chance in this election that he faced a pretty daunting result, and I guess he may still because we don’t know,” Mahoney said. “But he did have a good night.”

McGrath chalked up Singh’s performance to “his sincerity, his authenticity, his preparation.”

Singh hit the campaign trail and entered the debates “with most Canadians not really having any impression of him” and with most people in media and political circles “basically writing him out of the picture,” she said.

“I think people were more than just pleasantly surprised,” McGrath said.

Now the question is whether Singh’s likeable debate performances “will translate into actual vote intention.”

McGrath said that when votes begin to move late in an election campaign, that momentum “tends to continue.”

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Trudeau says security threat won’t change how he campaigns

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OTTAWA – Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he followed advice from the RCMP to don a bulletproof vest at a crowded campaign rally in Mississauga, Ont. on Saturday.

“My first concern was the safety of my family and all the Canadians in the room. This will not change at all how I campaign,” said Trudeau, adding that he wouldn’t speak further on the matter.

The leader – wearing his staple button down shirt with rolled sleeves and no bulletproof vest – was in Toronto Sunday at a Thanksgiving food drive, shuffling canned foods from box to box, alongside Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri.

Trudeau did however speak to the rise of “polarization” during the campaign, pointing the finger at Conservatives for inspiring “falsehoods” and “fear.”

“We are seeing, unfortunately, an extremely high level of misinformation, disinformation online and people who are really trying to further polarize and make fearful Canadians. The reality is, the Conservative Party is continuing to spread falsehoods to Canadians, to scare them into voting for them or against us.”

On Saturday evening, Trudeau was an hour and a half delayed to the Mississauga rally due to the unspecified security threat.

Surrounded by a group of tactical officers wearing large backpacks, Trudeau shuffled his way through a crowd of about 2,000 supporters. His wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, was expected to introduce her husband but was not present on stage.

The Liberal Party didn’t provide any further details after the rally about the information or events that led to increased security on Saturday and in an email to CTVNews.ca on Sunday, a spokesperson said they cannot comment on matters relating to the leader’s safety.

Trudeau’s rivals on the campaign trail have weighed in, offering sympathetic messages on Twitter and condemning any threats of violence against any leader.

The Conservative and Green camps took the day off for Thanksgiving festivities Sunday, while Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh made campaign stops.

Singh spoke about Trudeau’s situation and the “divisive politics” at play in Canada.

“I want to let Canadians know you can have all sorts of opinions and it’s ok to disagree but there should never be fear from any leader from any party to feel like there’s any threat to themselves.”

He added that his campaign has not received direct threats and that he feels “safe” under the purview of the RCMP.

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