Skip to main content

Trans allies gather in Ottawa to protest visit by Alberta premier


A crowd of demonstrators gathered in Ottawa on Monday to protest a visit by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.

Smith was in Ottawa to open a new Alberta office in the nation's capital, but her recently announced policies aimed at trans youth drew backlash from protesters and some federal government ministers.

Last week, Smith announced plans that include banning puberty blockers and hormone therapy for children 15 and under, unless their treatment has already begun, requiring parental consent for the use of preferred names and pronouns in school, and banning top surgery for children 17 and under. Albertans under 18 are already ineligible for bottom surgery.

Protesters circled the corner of Wellington and O'Connor streets in downtown Ottawa Monday afternoon, waving blue, pink and white transgender flags and holding signs and banners that said things like "refuse to be your child's first bully" and "trans is beautiful."

They were met by a small group of counter protesters with "leave the kids alone" signs. Ottawa police officers were on hand to keep the two groups separate.

"We're seeing a premier recklessly interfering the rights and freedoms of trans kids and their families and now she's come to Ottawa to spread her hate and we're going to stand up and speak up against it," said Wisdom2Action executive director Fae Johnstone, one of the rally's organizers.

While such policies are not legislated in Ontario, some at the rally expressed fear they could be.

"I do have a daughter that is affected by this and if this were to happen here in Ontario, it would completely uproot our lives. We would have to move," said parent Holly Brown. "I'm very afraid of what it would do to her and, as a parent, I can't help but think of all the youth and all the families."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford quickly answered a question Monday about whether his government would be following in Alberta's footsteps by simply saying, "No, we have a law here and we're leaving everything alone," before moving on.

Speaking on CTV's Power Play on Monday, Smith told host Vassy Kapelos that her new policies are based on "concern of what will happen" and not on current evidence of a problem.

"I don't want any child to feel regret for their decision or feel that they made it prematurely. That's why we want to make sure that we take the extra time so that those kids are making the decisions and they can live with the consequences," Smith said.

Some doctors in Alberta have also been critical of Smith's policies, saying they are based on ideology and not medical expertise.

Bylaw hands out tickets for megaphone use

Ottawa Bylaw confirmed to CTV News on Tuesday that some protesters at the march Monday afternoon were issued tickets for using megaphones.

"During the demonstration on Transgender rights Monday evening on Wellington Street, [Bylaw] officers issued three charges for the use of a sound reproduction devices on a highway," said Roger Chapman, Director of Bylaw and Regulatory Services (BLRS) in a statement. "BLRS continues to follow a progressive enforcement model and takes every opportunity to educate individuals on Ottawa’s bylaws before the event, and work towards a resolution during the event.”

The fine for violating the bylaw is $490.

"It’s interesting that after years spent at rallies and protests where this wasn’t an issue, the rules have suddenly changed," Johnstone said of the tickets issued on Monday. "It was a peaceful protest, the noise certainly wasn’t loud enough to cause a genuine disturbance. I wish the police applied this kind of scrutiny to far right rallies rather than just progressive ones."

Johnstone said she did not receive a ticket, but expected the ones that were handed out would be challenged. 

Bylaw officers have been issuing tickets to protesters for the use of megaphones and loudspeakers in recent weeks, most notably at the weekly pro-Palestine protests organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement, which has vowed to fight the tickets in court.

Chapman told CTV News Ottawa that investigations were ongoing into demonstrations that were held on Sunday. 

"The City of Ottawa respects individuals' right to peacefully demonstrate and acknowledges the importance for demonstrations to be conducted in a peaceful and respectful manner. We recognize that residents have been affected by various nuisances from demonstrations over the past few years. Bylaw and Regulatory Services’ (BLRS) role regarding demonstrations is to, where feasible and reasonable, address nuisance-related issues that disturb the community while ensuring public safety and well-being of the community," Chapman wrote.

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Leah Larocque and Josh Pringle and from CTV's Power Play senior producer Stephanie Ha Top Stories

Stay Connected