December 12, 2021
"In fact, in some instances parents could be prevented from opposing sex changes for their own children. Witnesses testified to Parliament that they had been helped by therapy that would, under the new law, be banned."
Conservatives allow Canada’s conversion therapy ban to pass with zero opposition
Passage of Bill C-4, which goes to the senate next, is a huge disappointment because Conservative MPs who objected to the ban previously offered no resistance this time.
On the morning of December 1, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole informed the press that he would allow his caucus a free vote on the so-called “conversion therapy ban,” which months earlier had been the subject of intense scrutiny. While most MPs opposed conversion therapy, there were concerns that the deliberately broad definition proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals would ban pastoral conversations between clergy and their parishioners and leave adults with unwanted same-sex attraction unable to receive the counselling they desired. In fact, in some instances parents could be prevented from opposing sex changes for their own children.
Witnesses testified to Parliament that they had been helped by therapy that would, under the new law, be banned. One young woman, now married with children, related how a sexual assault had left her traumatized, confused, and in desperate need of help that this law would deny her. As a result of testimonies such as these and outstanding concerns with the definition, MP Garnett Genuis launched the website Fix the Definition, replete with a list of ways the Liberals could amend the legislation, including:
Ensure that no laws discriminate against Canadians by limiting what services they can receive based on their sexual orientation or gender identity;
Allow parents to speak with their own children about sexuality and gender, and set house rules about sex and relationships;
Allow free and open conversations about sexuality and sexual behaviour; and
Not criminalize professional and religious counselling voluntarily requested and consented to by LGBTQ2 Canadians.
When the Liberals declined to address these concerns, 62 Conservative MPs voted against it. Thus, it came as a nasty and heartbreaking shock when on the afternoon of December 1, the Conservative Party presented a motion to fast-track Bill C-4, skipping the entire deliberative process entirely to send the bill directly to the Senate. The motion passed with unanimous consent — not a single MP stood up to say ‘nay.’ This is one of the few instances where a single vote would have ensured that the deliberative process was respected. All of the witness testimony, all of the concerns, all of the hard work put in by stakeholders to ensure that those most impacted by this law would be heard — gone.