Justice Minister David Lametti is seen during a news conference Monday October 5, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Justice Minister David Lametti is seen during a news conference Monday October 5, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

In pushing to amend conversion therapy bill, Tories seek to bridge caucus divide

Some members were concerned discussing the topic could become illegal

Conservatives will seek to amend a Liberal bill that would criminalize forcing people to undergo therapy to change their sexuality or gender.

In signalling their intention on Monday to move an amendment to the proposed law, the party also showcased efforts to bridge the gap between their social conservative base and the more moderate MPs in caucus.

Leading off the Conservatives’ formal response on the second-reading debate for Bill C-6 was Conservative MP Eric Duncan, who is openly gay.

He called conversion therapy a “terrible, inhumane, dangerous practice” that needs to come to an end.

But before he rose, the MPs who had posed the first questions to Liberal Justice Minister David Lametti were from the party’s socially conservative wing.

They raised their concerns the legislation goes too far and would make it illegal for, among other things, religious leaders or parents to talk to kids about the issue.

Duncan said Monday the party will seek to amend the bill to ensure that the government’s stated intent — that the bill not criminalize conversations — will be explicitly reflected in the law.

In his speech, Duncan related his own story of coming out in 2017 and how he was greeted with support and love.

That is not always the case, he said, highlighting the stories of two men who died by suicide after years of struggling with their own sexuality.

Parliament must ensure the bill passes to send an important message, he said.

“It is OK to be gay. It is OK to be trans. It is right for them to live their lives as who they are and be who they are,” Duncan said.

“Canadians know that subjecting anyone to conversion therapy is wrong and we must protect those who are vulnerable.”

If passed, the law would ban conversation therapy for minors and also outlaw forcing an adult to undergo conversation therapy against their will.

The bill would ban removing a minor from Canada for the purpose of undergoing conversion therapy abroad. It would also make it illegal to profit from providing the therapy and advertising to provide it.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has said the eventual vote on the bill will be a free vote for Tory MPs, as it is a matter of conscience. It’s a follow through of a promise he made during the leadership race he won, a victory attributed in part to the influential social-conservative voting bloc within the party whose support eventually went to him.

On Monday, Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall — who is sponsoring a private member’s bill to ban sex-selective abortion — said the bill restricts freedom of choice and expression for Canadians, including LGBTQ2 individuals.

She cited the case of a woman who had undergone transition and regretted it, suggesting the bill would criminalize her ability to speak out about her experience to warn others of the consequences.

Also on his feet was failed leadership contender Derek Sloan, who had made an assertion the bill would criminalize conversations between parents and their children an element of his leadership campaign.

On Monday, he raised concerns the bill, as written, would criminalize prayer.

The Liberals have insisted the bill does not criminalize ordinary conversations that are meant to provide guidance to those questioning their gender or sexuality.

“What we are banning is a practice,” Lametti said in response to Sloan.

“There is a great difference whether one is in discussion or whether one is praying. There is a great difference between trying to determine who someone is on the one hand and telling someone that who they are is problematic or wrong, and then trying to change it to something else.”

The Liberals have not declared definitively whether they’ll make the vote free for their MPs.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has said his caucus will vote for the bill, though NDP Randall Garrison said Monday he believes it doesn’t go far enough in outright banning the entire practice of conversion therapy.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Conversion therapy banLGBTQ

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveres to Canada are being delayed because of complications at their European distribution facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Delays of Pfizer vaccine delivery to impact Alberta’s vaccination plans

Alberta has administered 74,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw
Alberta eases some COVID-19 restrictions

Salons, barbershops and other personal and wellness services will be open by appointment only

File Photo
UPDATE: Missing female has been found

Hope Tivendale was last seen on January 12 in Blackfalds

Environment Canada issued a wind warning for parts of central Alberta on Jan. 13, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Wind warning issued for central Alberta

Environment Canada said strong northwesterly winds will develop in the morning and weaken in the evening

Lesser Slave Lake UCP MLA Pat Rehn. (Facebook)
Kenney kicks Pat Rehn out of UCP caucus after municipal complaints

Rehn had been criticized by municipal leaders in his constituency

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

(Via the Canadian Press)
Alberta monolith comes with message to save eastern slopes of Rocky Mountains

‘They deserve our attention. They warrant our protection. They are under threat’

blessing
Bentley Blessing Pantry continues to faithfully serve the community

‘We just wanted to make everyone aware that we are still here to serve you throughout this coming year.’

A Suncor logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 2, 2019. A worker is missing after a dozer broke through ice on an inactive Suncor tailings pond in northern Alberta.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Worker missing after dozer breaks through frozen tailings pond in northern Alberta

The worker was an employee of Christina River Construction

File Photo
‘You took away some real joy,’ Sylvan Lake Winter Village turned off after vandalism

Sometime during the night of Jan, 12 the light display at the pier was vandalized and damaged

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID clarity: Feds say 42-day gap for 2-dose vaccines OK as provinces race to immunity

‘Realities on the ground’ means that provinces, territories will have difficult choices to make

Most Read