NDP says it's time for House of Commons to scrap gender-based dress code

NDP MPs are calling for the elimination of what they call the House of Commons' "archaic" dress code, which requires men to wear jackets and ties to speak in the chamber.

Men must wear a jacket and tie to speak but there are no specific rules for women

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wears a jacket and tie while speaking in the House of Commons earlier this year. (Sean Kilpatrick / Canadian Press)

NDP MPs are calling for the elimination of what they call the House of Commons' "archaic" dress code, which requires men to wear jackets and ties to speak in the chamber.

NDP MPs say they want the traditional rules on decorum to be updated to make them more modern and to accommodate transgender, non-binary and two-spirit members.

There are no specific dress rules for women MPs, who still constitute a minority in the House of Commons; like men, they must dress in "contemporary business attire" in order to speak in a debate.

Rare exceptions have been made to the rules for men — allowing them to wear a kilt on Robbie Burns Day, for example.

Randall Garrison, the NDP's spokesperson on LGBTQ issues, said the New Democrats will ask for the rules to be updated after the House returns on Nov. 22.

He called for a simple statement on decorum that doesn't specify traditional gender-based modes of dress, such as a jacket and tie for a man.

Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith was cut off from speaking in 2016 because he was not wearing a tie.

The New Zealand Parliament earlier this year relaxed its own dress code after a Maori MP was ejected from a meeting for wearing a traditional pendant instead of a tie.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern supported the change and said she saw no reason why male MPs should have to wear ties.

With files from CBC News

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?