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Results: 1 - 15 of 8193
View Tamara Jansen Profile
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 Karen Vecchio Profile
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 Michael Cooper Profile
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 Michael Cooper Profile
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 Michael Cooper Profile
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 Michael Cooper Profile
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 Michael Cooper Profile
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
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
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
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 Lianne Rood Profile
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 Michael Barrett Profile
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 Tony Baldinelli Profile
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 Greg McLean Profile
View Greg McLean Profile
2021-04-16 11:11 [p.5740]
Madam Speaker, this week, the House of Commons got to finally debate Bill C-262, a bill that would provide a tax incentive for companies across Canada's economy to contribute to greenhouse gas reductions. Yes, in an era when the government's approach to an environmental problem is to nibble at the edges and tax Canadians, Conservatives have put forth a plan to incentivize the removal of these gases from the atmosphere. Canada has been, until lately, a leader in the approach to solving the world's growing emissions. Our initiative would put us back on track. Sadly, my colleagues in other parties spoke against solving global warming issues with Canadian technological solutions.
We have seen the results of the current government's approach to managing greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019, we saw another increase from Canada. The Liberal government needs to look beyond the non-solutions put forth by this Minister of Environment and Climate Change and consider this bill as part of a real climate plan, one that actually reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
View Joël Godin Profile
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to reaffirm that the Conservative Party of Canada recognizes climate change, and I am proud of the leadership demonstrated by our leader, who yesterday presented a bold, realistic plan that has been validated by subject-matter experts.
This plan will help us meet the Paris targets in creative, effective ways. Among other things, we are going to establish a border tariff. We are going to increase carbon capture and the number of zero-emission vehicles. We are going to create a personal low carbon savings account.
Our plan is based on a very simple principle. We do not want to use the environment to fill government coffers. We want Canadians to be the ones who benefit from the positive impacts of this environmental plan.
It is ridiculous that the Liberal government thinks that Canadians will increase their fuel consumption to accumulate purchase credits for green products. The Conservative Party is the one that is going to take action for a greener environment.
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