The 44th Parliament will be the queerest yet. What that means for LGBTQ2S+ Canadians

A record number of LGBTQ2S+ MPs have been elected, and that could mean some real attention to the political issues that matter to our communities

With seat counts firming up, Canada will have a record eight queer and Two-Spirit MPs in the House of Commons and two out senators, making it the queerest Parliament yet in Canadian history. Yes, those queer MPs and senators are still overwhelmingly white and cisgender, but the inclusion of the NDP’s Blake Desjarlais as a Two-Spirit Métis/Cree MP has finally injected some diversity into those ranks.

There is a certain amount of poetic justice that Desjarlais replaced Kerry Diotte, one of the 62 Conservative MPs who voted against Bill C-6, which sought to ban conversion therapy on a national scale. In fact, six of those MPs lost their seats, including Tamara Jansen, who gained infamy with her speech about a young woman who was engaged in “lesbian activity” until she undertook counselling. It’s encouraging that voters have less patience for homophobia and transphobia in MPs and have ousted them, though we shouldn’t get too complacent about carrying on this work in future elections.

It’s also noteworthy that we have some ideological diversity among our queer MPs: three are Liberals, two are NDPers and two are Conservatives. The latter includes incumbent Eric Duncan and newcomer Melissa Lantsman, who is also the only queer woman in the current crop of MPs (there were none in the previous parliament, and there haven’t been any since the NDP’s Sheri Benson was elected in 2015). When I first arrived on Parliament Hill in 2006, the only out Tory was now-retired Conservative senator Nancy Ruth, who had to patiently be the Conservative voice for all of my stories of the era (never mind that there were closeted members of the Conservative cabinet during the Harper years). Not every queer or trans person is going to be left-wing—and indeed there was a trans candidate running for the Conservatives this past election—so it’s good that there will be queer voices inside of each of the caucus rooms. It’s a promising sign that there can be queer perspectives to how each of the parties views the issues of the day through their particular ideological lenses.

“It’s a promising sign that there can be queer perspectives to how each of the parties views the issues of the day.”

In terms of what we can expect policy-wise, there will be a certain degree of status quo. This is the government that created the LGBTQ2 Secretariat, whose work will be ongoing. One of the Liberal’s platform promises was that the Secretariat would complete the work on their LGBTQ2 Action Plan within a hundred days of this parliament being constituted; that brings us up to date with their pre-established timelines, so this just carries on the work that was already started.


Another of the platform promises was for $40 million in capacity funding for Canadian LGBTQ2S+ service organizations, which the Liberals promised to get flowing within this fiscal year. This will likely be part of the budget implementation bill to accompany the fall fiscal update, whenever that is scheduled. 

It’s also reasonable to conclude that the promised expansion of the Medical Expense Tax Credit to include reimbursement of in vitro fertilization (IVF) expenses for surrogate mothers would be included in the technical tax changes that are usually included in budget implementation bills. Less certain is the timing for when the provision of an additional 15 weeks of leave for adoptive parents will be put into force, as well as expanding the eligibility of IVF as an allowable medical expense under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. They could possibly include that change in the budget implementation bill, or they may decide to do a larger overhaul of that Act, as it is in dire need of modernization.

It is likely that the government will once again table legislation to ban conversion therapy as one of their first bills—much as it was in the previous session. Given that all parties committed to passing such legislation, including the Conservatives (with caveats), it is likely to move more quickly this time around. If the Conservatives attempt to slow-walk it a second time, the government is more likely to count on the support of the NDP and Bloc Québécois to invoke time allocation to speed the process along, citing the fact that it had passed the House in the previous session. Plus, the Liberals won’t need to use it as fodder for a wedge issue now that the election is over and the next one isn’t likely to be for a little while.

“The government has promised a lot to LGBTQ2S+ communities. Now, we will be watching to see that they live up to them.”

I will also be very curious to see which of the three gay Liberal MPs make it into Cabinet. Seamus O’Regan is already the minister of natural resources, and given his close friendship with the prime minister, he is almost certain to remain in Cabinet. There stands a good chance that returning MP Randy Boissonnault will also be appointed to Cabinet, as one of two Liberal MPs from Alberta and with the prime minister needing regional representation from the province. Boissonnault had previously served as a parliamentary secretary to the minister of Canadian heritage, as well as special advisor to the prime minister on LGBTQ2 issues. Rob Oliphant has been in the role of parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs for much of the previous parliament, but his chances for getting into Cabinet may be hampered by the fact that Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet is already very Toronto-heavy. I will also be curious as to whether Bardish Chagger will remain in the role of minister of diversity and inclusion and youth, as that portfolio is designated as the voice of the queer and trans communities at the Cabinet table.

The government has promised a lot to LGBTQ2S+ communities. Now, we will be watching to see that they live up to them—starting with the conversion therapy bill at the earliest possible convenience.

Update: September 27, 2021 10:49 amThe number of queer MPs elected has been updated since the initial publication of this story.

Dale Smith is a freelance journalist in the Parliamentary Press Gallery and author of The Unbroken Machine: Canada's Democracy in Action.

Keep Reading

Job discrimination against trans and non-binary people is alive and well

OPINION: A study reveals that we have a long way to go to reach workplace equality for trans and non-binary people

The new generation of gay Conservative sellouts

OPINION: Melissa Lantsman’s and Eric Duncan’s refusals to call out their party’s transphobia is a betrayal of the LGBTQ2S+ community

Over 300 anti-LGBTQ2S+ bills have been introduced this year. This doesn’t mean we should panic

OPINION: While it’s important to watch out for threats, not all threats are created equally. Some of these bills will die a natural death

Xtra’s top LGBTQ2S+ stories of the year

The best and brightest—even most bewildering—stories from a back catalogue brimming with insight