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

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

The Site C Dam location is seen along the Peace River in Fort St. John, B.C., Tuesday, April 18, 2017. The cost of British Columbia’s Site C hydroelectric dam has grown to $16 billion and the completion has been moved up a year to 2025. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BC Liberal energy critic blasts ‘lack of transparency’ on Site C

MLA Tom Shypitka says Site C going ahead is a ‘good thing’, blames NDP for mismanagement

Volunteers from the Elk River Alliance cleared 14 car batteries from the Elk River near Elkford this week. (Photo contributed)
Elk River Alliance to move to more holistic environmental monitoring

The details of the ERA’s 2021 program will be discussed at the AGM next month

The Kitimat RCMP responded to false alarms, an apartment fire and more between Jan. 29 to Feb. 3, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Sparwood backs campaign to study Surrey RCMP impact

The City of Surrey is home to the largest RCMP detachment in the province

Brent Bidston is the president of Angel Flight East Kootenay. Black Press file photo.
RDEK ponders funding for Angel Flight East Kootenay

The district is considering funding for operations or to eventually help acquire a larger plane

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

Most Read