Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, second from right, stands during a rally on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, outside of the NCAA Convention in San Antonio. Gaines was among more than a dozen college athletes who filed a lawsuit against the NCAA on Thursday, March 14, 2023, accusing it of violating their Title IX rights by allowing Lia Thomas to compete at national championships in 2022. PHOTO BY DARREN ABATE/AP PHOTO

BC Conservatives are province's only hope for fair, sex-segregated sports

John Rustad's efforts to protect female athletes have been stifled in the legislature, but electoral victory could change that

In 2021, Linda Blade, former NCAA All-American track and field champion, today a high-performance coach, published a book (which I co-authored): Unsporting: How trans activism and science denial are destroying sport. At that time, Blade was the only coach in Canada willing to speak out publicly against the policy of “inclusion” for biological males in women’s sport.

As we wrote, we both worried that the book might arrive as old news. As more and more trans athletes — typically average performers in men’s sport — came to own female podiums and smash female records by virtue of the well-documented post-puberty male advantage, we believed the sporting world might have come to its senses before the book’s publication date.

How wrong we were, not least in Canada.

Until recently, Canadian politicians by and large avoided the issue. Being labelled as transphobic for defending women’s sex-based rights, potentially a kiss of political death, was a realistic fear. Most conservatives understood that, and forgave Pierre Poilievre for his procrastination in grasping that particular nettle. And so, for too long, hampered by sand thrown in their gears by Justin Trudeau’s unconditional and enthusiastic endorsement of whatever policies ideologues demanded, Canada’s mills of gender justice ground excruciatingly slowly.

But the grindstones are finally picking up speed, thanks to courageous female athletes who refuse to be silenced, well-organized activists and a perceptible shift in the tolerance level of spectators who, fed up with witnessing transwomen swimmers and runners effortlessly lapping straining female competitors, are voting with their “boos” for fairness over ideology.

The smothering omertà on dissent has lifted.

The Conservative Party of Canada convention last September voted solidly for female fairness and security protections. And at last, in February, a confident Poilievre publicly and unequivocally declared that “female sports, female change rooms, female bathrooms should be for females, not for biological males.”

Poilievre paid no political price for his stated position, despite trans activist Fae Johnstone scaremongering that the Conservative leader was, for example, attempting “to appease far right radicals in his base,” and Trudeau’s allegation that he was “creating division and anger and creating political toxicity and driving wedge issues.” Even if it has dawned on him that the cultural zeitgeist is leaving him behind, Trudeau is so far down the rabbit hole he descended at the bidding of gender extremists that he doesn’t have a credible way back up.

Finally, we have evidence from the wokest part of Canada — British Columbia — that gender realism has actually become a political asset. The rapid ascent of B.C.’s Conservative Party under the leadership of John Rustad is, according to veteran journalist Kirk LaPointe, “without question Canada’s political phenomenon of 2024.” From climate change to gender ideology to addiction policy to (two-tier) health care, Rustad presents a stark contrast to the reigning NDP. A victory for the BC Conservatives on Oct. 19 would be “seismic.”

In April, Rustad tabled a private member’s bill on fairness in women’s and girls’ sports. It would have ensured that publicly funded athletics “must be classified by sex.”It was — extraordinarily — voted down at first reading by Premier David Eby’s NDP caucus, supported by two Green Party and two Independent members on the ground that the proposed bill was “hateful and discriminatory.”

To its credit, BC United, rival to the BC Conservatives, voted in favour of the bill at first reading and expressed strong criticism of the NDP’s suppressive move. There is nothing anti-trans in the proposed bill; the bill is simply pro-women. Indeed, Eby’s reflexive instinct to quash discussion of it reeks not only of political desperation but of complete indifference to women’s sex-based rights.

Hannah Driedger, the communications and research director for the BC Conservative caucus, was largely responsible for the bill’s drafting over a three-year period. In company with Blade, she explained the bill and its importance on Bob Mackin’s podcast. I loved Driedger’s reference to Rustad characterizing the entry of biological males into women’s sport as “not valour, but vandalism.” Because that’s exactly what it is, and it is both heartening and instructive that a political leader is willing to state the problem so brazenly.

Blade emphasized the importance of provinces fixing the problem at the community level. It will have an upward domino effect, she said, at the national level. Driedger’s final comments indicate that if the Conservatives are elected, the sport fairness bill will be one of the first to be tabled. At last, it’s springtime for sanity in sport.