No MP Stands Up to Oppose Federal Conversion Therapy Ban
On December 1, the House of Commons passed a motion that was introduced by MP Rob Moore, the Justice Critic for the Conservative Party. Here is what MP Moore said:
I am asking today for unanimous consent from the House to adopt the following motion. I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, Bill C-4, an act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy) be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole, deemed considered in Committee of the Whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at the report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.
Not one MP stood to oppose unanimous consent, and a bill that will have tragic consequences for parents, spiritual leaders, counsellors, and, most importantly, Canadians of all ages struggling with sexual and gender identity questions passed through the entire House of Commons process and proceeded directly into the Senate in a mere matter of moments.
In the previous Parliament, 62 MPs had the courage to vote against Bill C-6 because of its poorly drafted definition of conversion therapy. That vote occurred in June, just prior to Parliament being dissolved for the Fall election. On November 29, just a week into the new Parliamentary session, the Liberals introduced Bill C-4, a conversion therapy ban even worse than its predecessor. Less than 48 hours later, not one single MP was willing to oppose a motion to have Bill C-4 proceed directly to the Senate without debate, analysis, vote or the possibility of amendments in the House.
What is the role of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition?
In a speech to the Empire Club of Canada in 1949, one of the greatest Conservative leaders John G. Diefenbaker said this about the role of the Opposition: “If Parliament is to be preserved as a living institution, His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition must fearlessly perform its functions. When it properly discharges them the preservation of our freedom is assured. The reading of history proves that freedom always dies when criticism ends. … [The Opposition] finds fault; it suggests amendments; it asks questions and elicits information; it arouses, educates and molds public opinion by voice and vote. It must scrutinize every action by the government and in doing so prevents the short-cuts through democratic procedure that governments like to make.”
Diefenbaker would consider the Conservative Party’s passivity on Bill C-4 to be a dereliction of duty. The fact that it was the Opposition who moved to pass this bill without scrutiny amplifies the neglect.
Who will be most impacted?
What is even more concerning is that the changes to this bill will receive no scrutiny from our democratically elected representatives. Bill C-4 will deny both children and adults who are dealing with unwanted desires regarding their sexuality and gender the broad range of choices for counselling and spiritual support that are widely available to all other Canadians. If passed by the Senate, this bill will allow a heterosexual teen to receive help with a pornography addiction but will criminalize a gay or lesbian teen for pursuing similar help. Children struggling with gender dysphoria will be rushed toward synthetic hormone injections and the surgical removal of healthy, functioning body parts, with alternatives criminally silenced.
Why this is concerning
Members of Parliament had the opportunity to point out flaws like this through the normal parliamentary process. Now they don’t. Canadians would have had the opportunity to engage in civil discourse with their elected lawmakers in expressing their concerns if the bill followed the normal parliamentary process. Now they don’t.
As a Christian advocacy group, this is deeply concerning to us, not only on this issue but also on how we proceed with many other files.
We are preparing to engage with other public policy debates such as limits on free speech and regulations surrounding assisted suicide. Will the response on these issues be similar to the response to conversion therapy bans? Will MPs again neglect the duty of the Official Opposition?
Relationships first, policy second
ARPA Canada has worked hard for many years to communicate respectfully and constructively with elected officials, building relationships many with Members of Parliament. We encourage our supporters to do the same. We will continue to do so, although we feel that some of those relationships have been seriously undermined by what happened in the House last week.
Unfortunately, the inaction on Bill C-4 has created further distrust in the political process and a feeling of betrayal for social conservative constituents across the country. There is a growing question, which may also be a question in the minds of some MPs as to whether the Conservative Party of Canada or any mainstream party is a viable vehicle to advance the policies Christians care about.
A plea to politicians
Politicians, especially those who want to take a biblical stand, have a special, albeit challenging, task. We hold them up in prayer regularly so that with God’s help they will be able to carry out their office with conviction and integrity. We encourage them to uphold biblical principles that are related to the many serious issues that they grapple with every day. We hope we can move forward from here to rebuild a relationship built on trust, openness, and a common goal of working for the good of our fellow Canadians.