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View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it I think you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion: That, notwithstanding any Standing Order, Special Order or usual practices of the House: (a) the report stage amendment to Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy), appearing on the Notice Paper in the name of the Minister of Justice, be deemed adopted on division; (b) Bill C-6 be deemed concurred in at report stage on division; and (c) the third reading of Bill C-6 be allowed to be taken up at the same sitting.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
There is one motion in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage on Bill C-6. Motion No. 1 will be debated and voted upon.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
moved:
Motion No. 1
That Bill C-6, in Clause 5, be amended by replacing line 31 on page 4 with the following:
320.101 In sections 320.102 to 320.105, conversion.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2021-04-16 10:03 [p.5729]
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Waterloo, the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth.
I want to begin by acknowledging that I am speaking today from the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
I have to interrupt the hon. parliamentary secretary as he needs unanimous consent to split his time.
Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to share his time?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2021-04-16 10:04 [p.5729]
Madam Speaker, as I said, I begin by acknowledging I am speaking from the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinabe, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. It is now home to many diverse first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. I commit every day to honour the treaties by which we share this land, which is ultimately a gift to us from our Creator.
I rise today in the House for the third reading of this important bill which brings forward amendments to the Criminal Code and moves us closer to seeing an end to the damaging practice of conversion therapy, a practice that continues to harm LGBTQ communities in Canada and around the world. This insidious and harmful practice must finally be put to a stop and this bill will bring about that important change.
That is the formal way I would normally start a speech in this House, by acknowledging the land we are on, name the bill and give my opinion on it, but I want to start again to simply say I am a gay man and this is a bill with amendments to the Criminal Code that is deeply personal and incredibly important to me.
While I do not expect everyone to relate to this bill the way I do and acknowledge the fact that out of 338 members in this place there are only four out, self-identified, open LGBTQ members, much smaller than the proportion in Canada's population, I do expect every member in this House to truly wrestle with what it means for them to vote against this bill. If they say they are voting against it as a matter of conscience, then I believe they need to stare deeply into that conscience and ask themselves, “Why would I want to perpetuate an injustice against another human being, a friend, a colleague, a family member, a neighbour, a constituent, anyone who will be hurt by that action; hurt perhaps to the point of death?” Why would they not want to stand with the vulnerable, with the oppressed, with the stigmatized, with the people who need their help the most?
I have heard and read the speeches against these amendments. They are tired and worn-out arguments that come from an age that I had thought we escaped long ago. The political rhetoric is there, trying to not sound like they are living in the stone Age, saying they are not against conversion therapy, just against this bill. They claim that the definition is too broad, that there are drafting errors in the bill, or they say that the escape clauses for religious bodies, escape clauses to help them avoid living up to God's command are not clear enough or wide enough, but I would say to them, as the prophet Micah did:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
It is time for us to talk truth in this place. If someone is against this bill, frankly, they are against me and against people like me, saying ultimately that we are less than they are, that somehow God made a mistake when God created us and that we should change who we are or at least consider changing who we are. I am here to say today that I am not going to change. I do not want to change and no one should be told that they have to change or should change the way God made them to be.
Conversion therapy, at its core, implies that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or two-spirited is somehow wrong. I am here to say that that is not true. I am here to say it is time for this House to declare it by putting to bed the myth that conversion therapy can ever be right in any circumstance in any place at any time. We already know well that LGBTQ communities in Canada have faced and continue to face social and economic disadvantages, and disparities in health, safety, employment, income and housing. These disparities are all linked to historic and systemic stigmatization and discrimination toward my community.
According to a report prepared by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, and based on a series of expert testimony and submissions, a wide range of health disparities are noted, including barriers to accessing health services. Notably, issues persist whereby LGBTQ2 communities are still not able to discuss their sexual orientation with their physician or, if they do, they often need to educate themselves, their health professionals, about their health needs. That same report highlights disparities in employment, income and housing. Strikingly, of the 40,000—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
I apologize for interrupting the hon. parliamentary secretary. We are at report stage, not third reading, and he had only five minutes.
The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I think if you seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order, Special Order or usual practices of the House:
a) the report stage amendment to Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, (conversion therapy), appearing on the Notice Paper in the name of the Minister of Justice, be deemed adopted on division;
b) Bill C-6 be deemed concurred in at report stage on division; and
c) the third reading stage of Bill C-6 be allowed to be taken up at the same sitting.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
Hearing no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2021-04-16 10:11 [p.5730]
Madam Speaker, I seek the unanimous consent of the House to split my time with the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Does the hon. member have unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2021-04-16 10:11 [p.5730]
Madam Speaker, I expect this will be even better the second time.
I want to begin by acknowledging that I am speaking from the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinabe, the Chippewa and the Haudenosaunee and Wyandot peoples, which is also now home to many diverse first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. I commit every day to honour the treaties by which we share this land, which is ultimately a gift to us from our Creator.
I rise today in the House for the third reading of this important bill, which brings forward amendments to the Criminal Code and moves us closer to seeing an end to the damaging practice of conversion therapy: a practice that continues to harm LGBTQ2 communities in Canada and around the world. These insidious and harmful practices must finally be put to a stop, and this bill would bring about an important change to the laws of Canada.
That is the formal way to start a speech in this place: We acknowledge the land we are on, name the bill we are speaking to, remind the House what its ramifications are and state clearly whether we support it and why.
However, I want to start again and simply say I am a gay man. This is a bill that makes amendments to the Criminal Code. It is a bill that is deeply personal and incredibly important to me. I acknowledge that out of 338 members in this place, there are only four out, self-identified and open LGBTQ2 members, a much smaller proportion than in the population of Canada. While I do not expect everyone to relate to this bill the way I do, I do expect every member in the House to truly wrestle with what it means for them to vote against this bill.
If members say they are voting against it as a matter of conscience, then they need to stare deeply into their conscience and ask themselves why they would want to perpetrate an injustice against another human being, friend, colleague, family member, neighbour, constituent or anyone who would be hurt by that action, perhaps to the point of death. Why would they not want to stand with the vulnerable, the oppressed and the stigmatized? These are the people who need their help the most.
I have heard or read the speeches against these amendments. For me, they are tired and worn-out arguments that come from an age I thought we had escaped decades ago. The political rhetoric is there, the members trying not to sound like they are still living in the stone age. They say they are not against conversion therapy, they are just against this bill. They claim the definition is too broad, or there are drafting errors in the bill, or they say the escape clauses for religious bodies, which help them avoid living up to God's command, are not clear or wide enough.
I say to them, as the prophet Micah did, “He has told you, oh mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” It is time for us to talk truth in this place. If someone is against this bill, they are against me and against people like me. They are saying ultimately that we are less than they are, that somehow God made a mistake when God created us and that we should change who we are or at least consider changing who we are.
I am here to say today I am not going to change, and no one should be told that they have to change or should change or even could change who God made them to be. Conversion therapy, at its core, implies that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or two-spirited is wrong. This is not true, and it is time for the House to declare that by putting to bed the myth that conversion therapy can ever be right, in any circumstance or in any place at any time.
We already know very well that LGBTQ2 communities in Canada have faced, and continue to face, a set of social and economic disadvantages. These include disparities in health, safety, employment, income and housing. These disparities are linked to historic and systemic stigmatization and discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities.
According to a report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health and based on a series of expert testimonies and submissions, a wide range of health disparities are noted. These include barriers to accessing health services, and issues persisting whereby LGBTQ2 individuals are still not able to discuss their sexual orientation with their physicians, or if they do, they have to be the ones to educate their own health professionals about their health needs.
The same report highlights disparities in employment, income and housing. Strikingly, of the 40,000 homeless youth in Canada, between 25% and 40% identify as being part of the LGBTQ2S community.
Just this week, retired Ontario Court of Appeal justice Gloria Epstein's long-awaited independent review found serious flaws in the way Toronto police handled the case of serial killer Bruce McArthur, whose killing spree from 2010-17 left at least eight gay men dead. Justice Epstein said that McArthur's victims were “marginalized and vulnerable in a variety of ways”, and their disappearances were often given less attention or priority than they deserved by the police. They were gay, and many of them were racialized or from communities that police simply did not care much about.
Underneath these findings is the stark truth that the lack of attention is not simply incompetence on the part of the Toronto police force, it is a deeply embedded homophobia. It is systemic homophobia. That kind of homophobia, which leads to people dying and being killed, is only furthered when society allows things like so-called conversion therapy to be practised. Conversion therapy, which undermines the value, the worth and the dignity of LGBTQ2S people aids and abets those who would discriminate against, hurt, damage or kill us.
It is true that, throughout all this, LGBTQ2 communities continue to demonstrate great resilience, resourcefulness, innovation and strength. However, dangerous attitudes and beliefs underpin and fuel all of this. Discrimination is real, stigma is real and harassment is real. Even though hurtful attitudes and beliefs about our community continue to exist, they need to be challenged and they need to be stopped. Thanks to the good work of the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, we in the House have a chance to do just that by supporting this bill.
It is not LGBTQ2 people and communities who need to be changed or converted. Harmful prejudice, homophobia, transphobia and all forms of discrimination need to be changed and converted into justice, compassion, understanding and respect. Ultimately, they need to be converted into love. That is what we will be able to do collectively as we support this bill and bring it into law to build a better Canada for everyone.
A vast breadth of sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions exists. That is nothing to fear. We must, as a society, reach a point where we all understand that each person's sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are intrinsic parts of who we are. We need to embrace these in ourselves and in other people, even when we do not fully comprehend what they mean.
That is why this is such an important bill. Conversion therapy is based on misinformed assumptions and harmful beliefs. By moving forward with stopping the harmful practice of conversion therapy, we are not only moving to stamp out this practice and protect the lives of LGBTQ2 communities and people, we are also sending an important message. Our gender identities, our gender expressions and our sexual orientations are essential parts of who we are and they are not up for debate. They should be understood, appreciated and celebrated. Then we can have a truly inclusive, cohesive society.
It is obvious I was not born yesterday, which everyone can tell by my tired look. That simply means that I have seen tremendous advances in attitudes toward people like me. Just as I was beginning to understand my sexual orientation, the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau ensured that I would not be a criminal if I chose to act on my sexuality and love another man. I saw the emergence of human rights legislation and court decisions based on the charter that gave me a chance to marry my partner with whom I have shared almost 30 years. I have seen my government apologize to those hurt by systemic homophobia in the public service, the military and our national police force.
Now I am going to be in this virtual chamber when we take the next step to ban conversion therapy. We are not done yet. Old attitudes take a long time to die and a long time to bury, but this is our chance—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
We have to go to questions and comments. The hon. member for Cloverdale—Langley City.
View Tamara Jansen Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, I am so glad that my colleague invoked the words of the prophet Micah, so I am going to invoke the words of the Apostle Matthew, who stated:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.
I have had so many people reach out to me in regard to this bill. Charlotte, a young woman in Calgary, was involved in lesbian activity. She struggled with self-worth and depression. She reached a point in her life when she did not want to continue with her lesbian activity, and her parents supported her choice and helped her find a counsellor who helped her process the feelings. She said:
Because of the counselling, I had a deep sense of love and acceptance. It was not harmful, coercive or abusive in any way.... If you enact the proposed bill, you're banning the exact support that I desperately needed at that time in my life. If this bill is to be truly inclusive, include people like me.
Why will the government not respond to—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
I have to give the hon. parliamentary secretary a chance to answer.
The hon. parliamentary secretary.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2021-04-16 10:23 [p.5732]
Madam Speaker, the first thing I would say is that people like me are not unclean. It is deeply offensive to play Bible baseball like that. I know my Bible very well. That is why I would call him the Apostle Matthew. I understand every word in that scripture, having studied it and having a doctorate in theology. It is offensive to even use that word in the context of this debate.
What we are about is ensuring the safety and security of everyone, including Charlotte and anybody who has doubts or concerns about their sexuality, but not to engage in conversion therapy.
People deserve counselling and support. I spent 25 years of my life as a pastoral counsellor. I am proud of that work. I am proud of the fact that in my Christian heritage we will stand up and defend people, as do people in heritages of every sort and every religious background. This is a time to move beyond—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Questions and comments, the hon. member for North Island—Powell River.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member so much for his speech. It was better the second time because it was not interrupted.
I am also grateful to be a part of the House as we look at this important legislation. I recognize this bill will not fix the historic wounds of conversion therapy, nor will it fix the homophobia and transphobia we still see in so many of our communities. I wonder if the member could talk about what the Liberal government will do to build capacity within the SOGIE community so that these challenges can be addressed by the community.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2021-04-16 10:24 [p.5732]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank colleagues from the New Democratic Party, including the hon. member, for their support. It has been long-standing, rich and important. It is very good to have friends.
The SOGIE community continues to need support, in particular people in other vulnerable and intersectionally biased communities; that is, people who are poor, who are indigenous and who are from racialized communities. I hope the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth will have a chance to talk about that, because I am very pleased with what her department is doing. It is reaching out. It is a cross-departmental secretariat that is ensuring that people have the resources they need. That includes continuing to work for every agency in every country to have the resources, whether through interpretation, cultural dialogue or anything. We are not there yet and we—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
One last question, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, for his intervention today, but more importantly for his response to that ignorant first question we heard.
The reality is that, as the LGBTQ movement has been progressing, minds have been changed and people have come to realize the mistakes that were made in the past. I think of my parents, who have come so far from their original positions on gay marriage to where they are now.
Can the member talk from his experience about how we have made progress over the last number of decades, and where we ultimately need to be to establish a full sense of equality for all people in this country?
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2021-04-16 10:26 [p.5733]
Madam Speaker, I have seen tremendous change. I have seen people go from complete misunderstanding to great love. I continue to be inspired by them. Some of them sit in the House. Hopefully tomorrow there will be even more sitting in the House who have made that conversion, which needs to be made.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2021-04-16 10:27 [p.5733]
Madam Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging that I am joining the House from Waterloo, Ontario, the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe and Neutral people.
I also want to thank my dear friend and colleague, the member of Parliament for Don Valley West, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, for sharing his time with me. Mostly, I thank him as a fellow Canadian citizen. I thank him as a fellow member of the human race. I thank him for being his true authentic person he was put on this Earth to be.
It is a privilege to rise in support of Bill C-6, an act to amend the Criminal Code to abolish the destructive practice of conversion therapy in Canada. I rise today with someone else's words, words I have not been able to forget since I first heard them. They are the words of Peter Gajdics, a survivor of six years of conversion therapy, who appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in December. Mr. Gajdics said:
I still consider it a miracle I didn't die. I left these six years shell-shocked. It was not so much that I wanted to kill myself as I thought I was already dead.
Imagine being parents feeling like they cannot accept part of who their child truly is or who or how they love. That is deep conditioning at work, conditioning that imprisons people in the misguided belief that the only acceptable path is being cisgender or heterosexual, conditioning based on myths, stereotypes and underlying mistruths that are rooted in and perpetuate homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
It is high time for us to take decisive action to end conversion therapy and to do everything we can to stop violence and discrimination in its tracks. LGBTQ2 rights are human rights.
My mandate letter as the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth asks me to promote LGBTQ2 equality, promote LGBTQ2 rights and address discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities.
A recent global survey tells us that four out of five people who undergo these damaging therapies are younger than 24 years old, and of those, roughly half are under 18 years old. This is far too many young people growing up being told they are invalid, shameful or unnatural, far too many young people being told that how they perceive themselves, who they want to be in this world or who or how they love is wrong.
Bill C-6 get us one step closer to that goal.
These young people are our future. We must protect them. We have to put an end to conversion therapy, especially for children and youth.
I would like to thank the witnesses who appeared before committee, those who contributed submissions and the standing committee members who came together to strengthen the legislation for Canadians. Further defining conversion therapy to include gender expression while making clear the heinous efforts to force people to be something they are not is the target of this legislation.
In addition to the five original prohibited offences, the committee's amendments clarify that conversion therapy performed without consent is to be criminalized and that promoting conversion therapy services or practices is also to be targeted.
Unlike some misguided narratives we have heard about the bill, it would not criminalize another person's values, opinions or beliefs. It does not criminalize a private conversation where these values or beliefs are being expressed. We recognize it is crucial to ensure affirming and supportive guidance and advice remains available to those coming to terms with who they are.
There is no question that these proposed amendments bring us one step closer to building the safer and consciously more inclusive Canada we all imagine. However, we know that achieving this vision will take more than legislation. It will take a transformation of our ideas about and attitudes toward LGBTQ2 communities, a transformation of our broader perspectives on diversity and inclusion. It will take nothing short of a revolution of the hearts and minds of all Canadians.
The Government of Canada is strongly committed to protecting the rights of LGBTQ2 Canadians and ensuring full and equitable participation in society.
We are working with all levels of government and with partners from all sectors to bring about positive change across Canada.
As leaders, as legislators, as Canadians, as compassionate human beings, it is our job to ensure that Canada is a country for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, can live in equity and freedom.
Not long ago, six Conservative members voted against the bill at second reading in the House. Anyone who continues to oppose the proposals in Bill C-6 is in direct opposition to the community.
The bill and all our actions to recognize and protect the rights of LGBTQ2 Canadians are important and necessary steps in building a safer, more equitable and consciously more inclusive Canada we all want. Conversion therapy practices have no place in Canada.
When I think of the courage and resilience of the many survivors who gave their testimony in December, I know that we in the House have a duty to ensure that we do not let them down. We are indebted to their collective strength and steadfastness in the face of oppression of those who speak out.
When children arrive into this world, they are not innately born with prejudice or hatred. Children are taught to hate and to discriminate, taught to be ashamed of who they are and taught that there is only one correct way to live and be. We have to provide a different future for our next generations, an even better and consciously more inclusive future.
Our task is clear: The time to act is now. I urge all members to support this legislation, protect Canadians and uphold human rights for all. For members who oppose Bill C-6, do so in their right but not by speaking with fear or misinformation.
Tomorrow, we mark the anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Let us all work to create and defend and build on these rights and freedoms. Let us protect these hard-fought rights and freedoms, because I know we can and must do better.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I do not support conversion therapy, but I do understand some of these concerns. I will be supporting the bill, but there are some concerns when it comes comes to those simple dialogues that we want to have with our children.
As a parent of five children, sometimes having those dialogues can be very difficult. I know there has been a great discussion about what is or is not criminalized. I think many people are just looking for assurance.
Could the minister share her thoughts on this so those people who are concerned feel there is more a balance here?
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2021-04-16 10:36 [p.5734]
Madam Speaker, first, it is nice to see the member even if it is virtually. She is very thoughtful in her debate and discussion, and that is part of the challenge we sometimes have as members of Parliament: our personal values versus representing our communities. I want to assure the member and all Canadians listening that discussions and open-ended conversations that explore identity are not conversion therapy and they are not targeted in the bill.
Children should be free to ask questions about who they are and to come to know themselves. That is why health care workers, parents, teachers, religious leaders must be able to continue supporting and affirming youth in these conversations and discussions.
The challenge where it becomes conversion therapy is when it is without consent, when it is being imposed, when people are being forced to change who they are or exploring who they are. That is where there is a little misinformation about what the legislation would do. We have worked really hard and have listened to a lot of the community to ensure we have it right. We hear from many people who say we need to go further. I want to assure exploratory—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Moving on to questions and comments.
The hon. member for London—Fanshawe.
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2021-04-16 10:37 [p.5734]
Madam Speaker, I want to build upon what the member said about this being one step.
During COVID, a lot of the supports in our communities have been greatly impacted. Could she talk about future steps going forward regarding what monies and supports will be provided by the government to our communities to ensure we go that step beyond and to ensure we fully incorporate and encompass the support she talked about in her speech?
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2021-04-16 10:38 [p.5734]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member and her party for their unconditional support of protecting and defending LGBTQ2 rights as human rights.
When the pandemic hit, one of the first things our government did when it came to funding agreements was to recognize that the environment and the situation were changing. We wanted to ensure that organizations that were supporting members within the LGBTQ2 community were able to continue their work, because those supports are more necessary today than ever.
In 2019, our government put forward a $20 million community capacity fund for LGBTQ2 communities. It is the first fund of its kind, a fund that will help communities build the foundation they need to support members of their communities. We have also ensured that, as we make appointments, we are more conscious about the diversity of our country to ensure these voices make it to the decision-making table. We have—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
We have one last question.
The hon. member for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne.
View Sherry Romanado Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Speaker, my aunt and her partner have built a beautiful family and a life together. There is nothing wrong with them, and I would not change them for the world. Could the minister share how this bill will help young people in the LGBTQ2 community find the same happiness that my aunts have found?
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2021-04-16 10:39 [p.5735]
Madam Speaker, that member has the courage to share a bit about her family and allow us to enter into her private life. Many people have looked into their families and how this legislation would impact them. Young people are not only our leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders of today. They need to be their true, authentic selves and we have to support them.
The legislation is one step closer to every individual being able to contribute in a meaningful way and to be proud of the shell that he or she occupies. When we—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Resuming debate, the hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton.
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2021-04-16 10:40 [p.5735]
Madam Speaker, I would seek unanimous consent to split my time with my colleague, the member for South Surrey—White Rock.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Does the hon. member have unanimous consent?
Hearing no objection, the hon. member has consent.
The hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton.
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2021-04-16 10:40 [p.5735]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak to Bill C-6, an act to amend the Criminal Code to ban conversion therapy.
Let me say at the outset that conversion therapy is absurd. It is wrong, and it is harmful. Conversion therapy should be banned. Individuals who perpetrate such harmful acts and seek to coercively change someone's sexual orientation or sexual identity should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law under the penalty of the Criminal Code. I unequivocally support the purported objective of this legislation, which is why I voted for Bill C-6 at second reading.
I did so notwithstanding the fact that I did have some concerns with the manner in which the bill was drafted. In particular, I had concerns that the definition of conversion therapy was vague and overly broad, and that it could capture not only those circumstances that involve coercive, abusive or otherwise harmful efforts to change someone's sexual orientation or identity, but could also more broadly encapsulate such things as good-faith conversations.
Nonetheless, because I unequivocally support the purported objective of the bill, I was hopeful, as a member of the justice committee, that we could come together at committee to study the bill in detail, hear from a wide range of witnesses and bring forward appropriate amendments where necessary to get the definition right.
It goes without saying that if we are to carve out any law in the Criminal Code to ban conversion therapy, it is absolutely imperative that we get the definition right. At committee, many of the concerns I had with the way in which the bill had been drafted were expressed by a wide range of witnesses, including members of the LGBTQ community, lawyers, medical professionals and members of the clergy.
More specifically, with respect to the definition and some of the issues that arise therefrom, I would first of all note that in the bill, conversion therapy is defined as any “practice, treatment or service”. These terms are not defined anywhere in the Criminal Code, and it should be noted that nowhere in the bill are these terms qualified in order to provide the context in which the practice, treatment or service would apply. Although these terms are found in parts of the Criminal Code, they are not stand-alone terms as they are in Bill C-6.
It is true that the term “treatment” connotes a therapeutic context. However, “practice” or “service” could, without qualification, involve just about any activity. For example, a “practice” could involve a good-faith conversation, and “service” could involve a voluntary counselling session or a religious sermon.
I was concerned that witnesses were expressing concern about the lack of clarity with respect to those terms, but in addition to that, the definition, as provided in Bill C-6, provides that it would ban any practice, treatment or service designed to reduce sexual attraction or sexual behaviour.
The definition is clearly expansive. It goes beyond a clear and targeted definition. Without any qualification, it could arguably include counselling sessions or other supports provided on a voluntary basis by medical professionals and other professionals. It could, arguably, capture good-faith conversations between persons struggling with their sexual identity and medical professionals, parents and other family members, religious leaders and others.
It is important to note that this definition of conversion therapy is not used by any professional body. It is not used by the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Psychological Association or their American counterparts. In the face of that ambiguity, which was supported by witness testimony, Conservatives sought to bring forward amendments to get the definition right.
Now, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and other members of the government have repeatedly said that the bill before us would not target voluntary, good-faith conversations. I do not doubt their sincerity when they say that is what they believe. Consistent with that, the website of the Department of Justice states the same.
However, what matters not is the minister's interpretation of the bill. What matters not is what is on the website of the Department of Justice. What matters is, in fact, what is in the bill, which is why Conservatives brought forward an amendment to simply incorporate into the bill the very language that was provided on the website of the Department of Justice. Such language would have provided certainty. It would have provided clarity that good-faith and voluntary conversations would not be the subject of the imposition of criminal charges laid against persons.
Let me be clear that it is a fundamental requirement of the rule of law that a person should be able to know and predict whether a particular act constitutes a crime. Here we have a definition that is vague and overly broad, and therefore is at risk of contravening fundamental justice. It could be deemed contrary to section 7 of the charter as a result.
In closing, the government's intention is a good one, and the intent of the bill is a good one, but it is important that we get the definition right. I am concerned that we have not achieved that in the bill before us.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, if I understand correctly, the member supports the ban on conversion therapy; however, he is hung up on the definition of three individual words, which could be very easily found in any Webster's dictionary, to provide context as to what they mean. Is that what the member is trying to tell this House?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2021-04-16 10:50 [p.5736]
Madam Speaker, with respect to the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands, it appears he did not listen carefully to my speech.
I noted, yes, that I had concerns with the terms “practice”, “treatment” and “service”, but I also noted concerns about the definition including the reduction of sexual attraction or sexual behaviour. There were many LGBTQ witnesses who appeared before committee who said that they were concerned this would make it illegal or create a chilling effect on counselling services and supports that they have relied on and that have helped them in their development and identity.
View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-04-16 10:51 [p.5736]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
I understand his concerns about the clarity of the bill's wording, but I wonder if he might take comfort in the fact that, when judges are called to interpret it, in order to exclude good faith conversations, they will also refer to parliamentary work and the debates for context.
Does my colleague take comfort in that?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2021-04-16 10:51 [p.5736]
Madam Speaker, it is absolutely essential that, when we draft legislation, we ensure that it is targeted toward demonstrated harms. We should not wait for a judge to interpret it or hope that a judge will interpret the law the way we hope a judge would do in the face of vague and overly broad language, and on a matter that can involve five years behind bars upon conviction.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2021-04-16 10:52 [p.5736]
Madam Speaker, I hear the hon. member profess that he agrees that conversion therapy should be banned and banned criminally, yet he is concerning himself with the definitions about what counselling might mean. Leading lawyers and other people involved, including the Canadian Association of Social Workers and others, have said that good-faith counselling sessions and good-faith therapy would not be covered by this ban.
Is the hon. member just looking for an excuse to fail to pass this bill at third reading?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2021-04-16 10:53 [p.5736]
Madam Speaker, with respect to the member for St. John's East, I voted for this bill at second reading. I heard the testimony of witnesses at the justice committee, in which there were significant concerns expressed. We worked to include language to provide that clarity.
I do not know why the government did not support such language because, had such language been incorporated, I believe we could have this bill pass this place with unanimous support or something very close to it. It is unfortunate that opportunity was missed.
View Joël Godin Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton and I would like to hear his thoughts on the fact that I share his concerns.
We agree on the principles of the bill. I think we need to be more inclusive. However, we do not want this to be rushed through and botched this time, as we have come to expect from the Liberals.
Could my colleague comment on the possibility of working with members of the Senate to come up with a definition and clarify this legislation from the outset rather than putting the onus on judges, so we can avoid any potential excesses?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2021-04-16 10:54 [p.5736]
Madam Speaker, the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier is absolutely right that it is important that we get the definition right. Surely, we want this legislation to pass constitutional muster, and a piece of legislation that has a definition that is vague and overly broad is at risk of a charter challenge, at risk of being found to contravene fundamental justice and at risk of being found to contravene section 7 of the charter.
I had hoped that this would not be the case and that we could have gotten it right, so that we could have a law on the books that would stand.
View Kerry-Lynne Findlay Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, I rise today not to debate a ban on coercive conversion therapy, but instead to debate the means by which we ban this harmful, damaging practice. I want to make one thing very clear from the outset: I am against forcibly attempting to change an individual’s sexual orientation. I condemn that practice in the strongest possible terms. There is simply no place for this in Canada.
However, there is a place in Canada for compassion. At the justice committee, of which I am a member, we heard testimony from a variety of stakeholders on this bill, including survivors of coercive conversion therapy, members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, indigenous leaders, academics, doctors, lawyers and faith leaders. I thank all the witnesses for their contributions, especially those who had the strength and courage to share their very personal experiences. I know it could not have been easy.
It is evident to me from having heard these witnesses, read countless briefs and spoken to dozens of constituents that there is a widespread support for banning coercive conversion therapy practices, and there should be. However, as with all legislation, the language must be clear. We need to ensure that judges can interpret and apply the law as it is written, and that Canadians know what the law prohibits and what it does not: in other words, whom it protects and whom it does not. On this point, I have heard repeatedly that the bill’s definition of conversion therapy is unclear and overbroad, as my colleague just said, and may have unintended consequences.
For earlier Liberal speakers to say that those with any concerns are against the communities we are trying to help, and speak from fear, is a harmful, wrong-minded statement. The Minister of Justice has said that the bill would not affect good-faith conversations, which I understand to mean caring, non-coercive discussions with doctors, parents, counsellors, faith leaders or others to whom Canadians, young and old, may turn for support. However, the bill, as drafted, does not say that. Why not? As we all know, what matters is not what the minister says the bill will do, but what the bill actually says. That is the law. That is what judges will apply, from Victoria to St. John’s.
Several witnesses appearing before the committee called for amendments to the bill to clarify its definition, to make it clear that it does not criminalize these good-faith conversations. Coercive conversion therapy should be banned, but we should leave politicization out and remember that we are dealing with real people with real vulnerabilities trying to make their way and needing help at a vulnerable time. We need to clarify, then proceed. The government should welcome the broadest possible support among Canadians for this legislation: nothing more, nothing less.
In fact, when the committee first heard from the Minister of Justice on this bill, the minister admitted, “I will focus on the bill's definition of conversion therapy, because there appears to be some persisting confusion about its scope.” I agree with the minister. There is persisting confusion, and the confusion is about its scope, confusion that we, as parliamentarians, have a duty to rectify.
André Schutten, legal counsel and director of law and policy at the Association for Reformed Political Action Canada, or ARPA, told the committee the definition is ambiguous, unclear and overbroad, and that it “captures helpful counselling and psychological support for children, teens, and adults”.
Colette Aikema explained to the committee that the counselling she received to help her cope with past traumas, including abuse and rape, would be criminalized by this definition of conversion therapy. Ms. Aikema told the committee that her voluntary therapy from a University of Lethbridge counsellor and a faith-based sex addiction group helped save both her marriage and her life. This was powerful testimony that should not be ignored.
We also heard from Timothy Keslick, a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, who fears that without further clarification, the therapy he relies on to help him navigate his same-sex relationships would be barred by the bill’s ban on treatment that “repress[es] or reduce[s] non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviours”.
Others also expressed the need to clarify the definition of conversion therapy in the bill—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
I apologize. I have to interrupt the member, who will have five minutes to complete her speech next time the bill comes to the floor.
View Ginette Petitpas Taylor Profile
Lib. (NB)
Madam Speaker, in the wee hours of October 3, 1974, a volunteer Moncton firefighter, Don MacFarlane, spotted a fire inside a home as he drove past. Off duty, without protective clothing, he entered the home multiple times to rescue a child and four adults. In one case, he dragged a man to safety through the smoke and fire while the victim was overcome.
I am sharing Mr. MacFarlane's remarkable story years later because he considered this all in a night's work and never told anyone except his wife. His bravery went unrecognized until research by the Moncton Fire Fighters Historical Society brought it to light. I was truly honoured last week to recognize Mr. MacFarlane's bravery in a special ceremony.
The people of Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe owe the Moncton Fire Fighters Historical Society a debt of gratitude for adding this incident to the historical record. We owe Don MacFarlane so much more. His selfless actions represent the best of what it means to be Canadian.
My thanks go to Mr. MacFarlane.
View Lianne Rood Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, main street is in trouble. Main street businesses in my riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex are hanging on by a thread and, sadly, many have gone under. Hair stylists, barbers, spas, fitness gyms are shuttered, again.
Like my colleagues on this side of the House, I have met many business owners who have gone above and beyond to do what was asked. They found ways to get products to shelves and to serve their customers safely. They helped their workforce adjust to the lockdowns. They kept as many on payroll as possible. Their resilience is truly inspiring, but their net revenues are not.
They gave me a message to bring to the House: “We cannot survive another lockdown. No more debts, no more handouts.” They just want the lockdowns to end. They want the government to—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
The hon. member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges.
View Peter Schiefke Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Peter Schiefke Profile
2021-04-16 11:02 [p.5738]
Madam Speaker, as I enter my ninth year of remission following treatment for testicular cancer, I rise today to recognize the hard work of nurses and all frontline health care workers who continue to save lives during this health crisis.
Yesterday, as I walked through the halls of Montreal's Jewish General Hospital for my annual blood work and X-rays, the experience was understandably different, but one thing remained the same: the dedication and resolve of our nurses.
I strain to find the words to describe my gratitude to the nurses who cared for me and, indeed, care for us all, so I will try to sum up these heroes with one anecdote. As I was leaving the hospital yesterday, one of the nurses who treated me looked at her colleague and said, “Okay, see you tomorrow. I'm off to the clinic. It's vaccines time”, because in addition to working her shift, she was also giving her time delivering life-saving vaccines to us and those we love.
They are true heroes. On behalf of everyone in this House, I sincerely thank them for everything they do for us and for all Canadians.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2021-04-16 11:03 [p.5738]
Madam Speaker, the pandemic has hit everybody hard, and small businesses are no exception. These are the businesses that drive employment and provide the real basis of our economy.
Last week, I hosted a virtual town hall meeting for Elmwood—Transcona small business owners. I heard from Gary, the owner of a company that provides trips for people with mobility challenges. He received the Canada emergency business account loan, but slow business means paying it off next year. It is completely unrealistic. Roger is a self-employed massage therapist whose business has been devastated by the pandemic. While CERB helped early on, rules for the new benefits disqualify him because he continues to earn some income.
While big banks benefited from huge gifts of liquidity and large firms were allowed to keep wage subsidy money while paying bonuses and dividends, small businesses continue to wait for word on whether they will get an extension on the CEBA or see income support that does not penalize them for making what money they can.
Once again, New Democrats are speaking up for the little guys when we say that small business owners deserve to know what support they can bank on in the years to come.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, we recognize that the most efficient way to reduce our emissions is to use price mechanisms. I know what colleagues are thinking: There goes the member for Kingston and the Island once again, railing on about the need to price pollution. Guess what, those are not my words. They are, in fact, words that come straight from the new Conservative climate plan. That is right: After five long years of criticizing and lashing out against the government's bold vision on recognizing that pollution should not be free, the Conservative Party has finally figured out this is the right way to go. However, we should not be fooled. As usual, the devil is in the details. Rather than encouraging folks to pollute less, the Conservative plan actually incentivizes them to use more fossil fuels. Yes, that is right. With their plan, the more one burns, the more one earns.
Leadership is not about waiting for public opinion to be on one's side. It is about doing something bold because one believes—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
The hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to inform the House of some of the life-saving first responders we are blessed to have in Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
Paramedics Colin Anderson, Scott Speer, Hailey Ireland, Ted Maika, Dan Freeman, Stefan Marquis, Michelle Brown, Chris Scott, Tanya Sinclair and Sandra Ladd all received awards for resuscitating patients. Their coolness under pressure certainly will not be forgotten.
Brockville constables Dustin Gamble, Ross McCullough and Geoff Fearon, as well as sergeants Eric Ruigrok and Shawn Borgford, showed incredible heroism saving the lives of two of our citizens. Our community is grateful to these officers.
We also have a couple of long-time leaders who are retiring after 36 years and 46 years, respectively. Gananoque Police Chief Garry Hull and Leeds and the Thousand Islands Fire Chief Rick Lawson will be stepping aside to enjoy retirement.
This is but a sample of the amazing work that first responders and telecommunicators do for us. They are our friends, our neighbours, and because of their commitment—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
The hon. member for Mississauga—Erin Mills.
View Iqra Khalid Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Iqra Khalid Profile
2021-04-16 11:07 [p.5739]
Madam Speaker, I join Muslims in my riding, across Canada and the world in observing the month of Ramadan.
As we fast from sunrise until sunset, and yes, even from water, Muslim Canadians will again this year have Iftars at our homes, isolated from others, missing out on gatherings with loved ones and praying at mosques.
Ramadan is a time to do our part to help those most in need, and I am thinking of community organizations like the Naseeha mental health helpline, which supports mental health for young people.
As Muslim Canadians do their part in supporting community, I am proud to be part of a government that stands shoulder to shoulder with Muslim Canadians to call out and take action against hatred in all its forms, including calling out Islamophobia by its name and proclaiming January 29 as a national day of remembrance of the Quebec City mosque attack and action against Islamophobia.
Our Canadian mosaic is a resilient one. Ramadan Mubarak.
View Lenore Zann Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Lenore Zann Profile
2021-04-16 11:08 [p.5739]
Madam Speaker, one year ago, on the morning of Sunday, April 19, we the citizens of Cumberland—Colchester, awoke to discover a devastating tragedy had ripped through our normally tranquil corner of the world.
Words cannot express my sorrow for the families and friends who lost loved ones and the RCMP who lost a beloved colleague here in the line of duty. I thank all first responders who risked their own lives trying to save others.
We are Nova Scotians. When we continue to support one another with kindness and generosity, we prove that love wins the day and that violence does not and will never define us.
View Tony Baldinelli Profile
CPC (ON)
View Tony Baldinelli Profile
2021-04-16 11:09 [p.5739]
Madam Speaker, April is Parkinson's Awareness Month, and this past week our community came together to honour one of our local residents by proclaiming April 11 as Steve Ludzik Parkinson's awareness day in the city of Niagara Falls.
Steve arrived in Niagara in 1978 to pursue a hockey career, playing Junior A for the Niagara Falls Flyers. He successfully realized his childhood dream by playing professionally in the National Hockey League, and later went on to become a professional hockey coach and broadcaster.
Steve is known for his incredible and selfless contributions made through the creation of his Steve Ludzik Foundation and the establishment of the Steve Ludzik Centre for Parkinson's Rehab at Hotel Dieu Shaver hospital in St. Catharines.
Diagnosed with Parkinson's himself, Steve's work and efforts have made a significant difference in the lives of so many people across Niagara. The motto of Steve's life and fight against Parkinson's is to remain “Ludzy Strong”.
Steve Ludzik is not only a friend to many; he is an inspiration to us all.
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
2021-04-16 11:10 [p.5739]
Madam Speaker, I rise today to bring the attention of this House to a painful disorder called endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a gynecological condition that causes severe pain, inflammation, fatigue and infertility. It impacts one in 10 women, as well as transgender and non-binary persons. Despite its prevalence, many women experience long delays to diagnosis.
Our government has provided funding through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to better understand the causes of endometriosis and to enhance science around prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
According to statistics, diseases that mainly affect women receive less research funding and are often under-diagnosed, which means that women are sometimes left to suffer for years without validation or treatment.
We need to do more for all those who are suffering and give them hope for a pain-free future.
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