2012 Hero: Cheri DiNovo
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2012 Hero: Cheri DiNovo

Nominated for: championing trans rights.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains: the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past 12 months. From December 10 to 19, we’ll unveil the nominees, grouped by category. Vote for your favourites from each batch, every single day! On December 19 and 20 the winners from each category go head-to-head in the final round of voting, and on December 21, we will reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

Cheri DiNovo, NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park, had a very successful 2012, especially considering that the same couldn’t really be said for Ontario politics as a whole.

In June, history was made in Ontario when the words “gender identity” and “gender expression” were added to the Ontario Human Rights Code, adding protections for transgender Ontarians. The law, known as Toby’s Law for late musician Toby Dancer, was championed by bill sponsor DiNovo. Ontario is so far the only province to enshrine protection for trans people (the City of Toronto and the Northwest Territories are the only other Canadian jurisdictions to provide similar protections).

DiNovo, of course, did not do this single-handedly: the law comes after years of lobbying and hard work by the trans community. Within the legislature DiNovo worked with co-sponsors Christine Elliott (PC, Whitby-Oshawa) and Yasir Naqvi (Liberal, Ottawa Centre) to get the bill passed. Among public officials though, DiNovo deserves special recognition. She had tabled the bill four times in the past six years, not having enough support to pass it the previous times, but persisting until it finally became law.

DiNovo’s latest bill, Bill 129, addressed the long delays workers face in receiving benefits when they miss time due to job-related post-traumatic stress disorder. The bill was her third try at getting one supporting workers with PTSD passed, but it died on the order paper when Premier Dalton McGuinty prorogued the legislature in October. It seems fair to assume that when the Ontario government is running again, DiNovo’s bill will make another appearance. The MPP is definitely determined, and hopefully it pays off for her—and Ontarians—in 2013 the way it did in 2012.

See the other nominees in the Advocates category:

The Toronto Marlies

Standing up for athletes of all orientations.
  Brian Burke

Making it his mission to combat homophobia.
  Stephanie Guthrie

Making public space—on and offline—safer for everyone.

  Jude MacDonald and Paul Magder

Holding the mayor to account

Cast Your Ballot