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“Person with a vagina”: the opposition explained

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar19,2024

Solidarity and liberals claim to have lacked time to properly analyze the Supreme Court's judgment.

« Person with a vagina»: the opposition explains itself

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Québec solidaire did the best it could with the time allotted to it between receipt of the motion and the vote, explained the party's parliamentary leader, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, on Tuesday.

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The motion unanimously adopted by the National Assembly last Thursday to deplore the use of the expression “person with a vagina” in a judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada continues to generate controversy. ink in Quebec.

Adopted under the pretext that the use of such a description made women invisible, the text was the subject of many comments in over the last few days.

In an interview on the show Tout un matin, last Monday, on ICI Premiere, the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Martine Biron, notably justified the wording of the motion and its adoption by all the parliamentarians present at the time of tabling.

According to her, the description person with a vagina is loaded and should never have been used by the highest court in the country, which also used the word woman to 67 repetitions in the judgment.

But the opposition parties questioned on the same subject upon their return to the Assembly were not all as willing as the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) to defend the text of the motion on Tuesday morning.

It happened much too quickly, defended the parliamentary leader of Québec solidaire (QS), Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, who himself was not present during the vote.

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The motion was presented by Minister Biron jointly with the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ ), the Parti Québécois (PQ) and independent MP Marie-Claude Nichols, but not with QS, he noted, adding that his party had voted for, of course, but without having had time to do all the necessary checks.

This way of doing things, moreover, is not new, underlined the deputy for Gouin. The CAQ often does this, launching motions very quickly on complex issues, he mentioned in passing.

QS's support for the motion, repeated its male spokesperson, can be explained above all by the fact that its political party wanted to send the message that it [was] not in in favor of the invisibility of women, he insisted, using an argument modeled on that of the text.

That the National Assembly denounces the choice of words used in a recent Supreme Court judgment to designate women; That she reiterates the importance of retaining the word “woman”; That she dissociates herself from the use of terms or concepts that contribute to making women invisible; May she recall the significant gains made in recent decades to advance women's rights and the need to protect these acquired rights.

The leader interim leader of the PLQ, Marc Tanguay, for his part was a little more repentant regarding his party's support for the contentious motion on Tuesday. If we had to do it again, the wording of the motion would have been different on our side, he admitted at a press briefing.

Like Mr. Nadeau-Dubois, Mr. Tanguay recognizes that the analysis of the Supreme Court judgment at the root of the controversy would have required more time. Above all, he remembers that the PLQ will have to be more vigilant, particularly regarding what the government puts forward.

The PQ, finally, does not regret having supported the motion, declared its leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, according to whom the use of the controversial turn, which his party had time to study, was not trivial, insofar as it is accompanied, according to him, by an entire ideological corpus.

The debate on the use of the expression person with a vagina arises from a 249-page judgment rendered by the Supreme Court on March 8 (New window) and from a column referring to it in the National Post from last Wednesday (New window).

Such a description, interpreted by its detractors as a way of unduly including transsexual people, immediately generated its share of criticism, notably in the flagship daily newspaper of the Postmedia network.

Conversely, experts argued that it was rather an expression of a legal nature, used as part of a demonstration about penile-vaginal penetration. – an act whose ins and outs were at the heart of the case in question.

Although the use on 67 occasions of word woman in the judgment tends to support such an explanation, the vagueness persists surrounding the words chosen by magistrate Sheilah L. Martin, who wrote the judgment.

Neither she nor Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner have spoken publicly on the subject since the ruling was issued.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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