An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)

Sponsor

David Lametti  Liberal

Status

In committee (Senate), as of June 28, 2021

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-6.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things, create the following offences:

(a) causing a person to undergo conversion therapy without the person’s consent;

(b) causing a child to undergo conversion therapy;

(c) doing anything for the purpose of removing a child from Canada with the intention that the child undergo conversion therapy outside Canada;

(d) promoting or advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy; and

(e) receiving a financial or other material benefit from the provision of conversion therapy.

It also amends the Criminal Code to authorize courts to order that advertisements for conversion therapy be disposed of or deleted.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 22, 2021 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)
Oct. 28, 2020 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)

Budget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1Government Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 10:40 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, what a pleasure it is to address the House on such an important piece of legislation. To be very clear, in budget 2021 the government has outlined a plan to allow us to finish the fight against COVID-19, heal the wounds left by the COVID-19 recession as much as we can, and ultimately create more jobs and prosperity for Canadians in the days and decades to come.

This is critically important legislation, and we would encourage all members of all political stripes to support it. Within it is a continuation of the government's focus on the pandemic. In the last federal election, Canadians wanted Parliament to work well together. They wanted us to come together to do the things that were necessary to facilitate a more positive environment for all Canadians, and being thrown into a pandemic made the priority fighting COVID-19: the coronavirus.

From the very beginning, our Prime Minister and this government have made it very clear that fighting the pandemic was our number one priority. We put into place a team Canada approach and brought together all kinds of stakeholders including different levels of government, indigenous leaders, individuals, non-profit organizations and private companies. We brought them all in to hopefully minimize the negative impact of the coronavirus.

It is because of those consultations and working with Canadians that Canada is in an excellent position today to maximize a recovery. The statistics will clearly demonstrate that. We have a government that has worked day in and day out, seven days a week, and is led by a Prime Minister who is truly committed to making Canada a better community.

I have, over the last number of months, witnessed a great deal of frustration from the opposition, in particular the Conservative opposition. The Conservatives continuously attempt to frustrate the process on the floor of the House of Commons. There was a time when all parties inside the chamber worked together to pass necessary legislation, and worked together to come up with ideas and ways to modify things so we could better support individuals and businesses in Canada. However, that time has long passed. The degree to which we see political partisanship on the floor of the House of Commons today is really quite sad.

Yesterday was embarrassing. I know many, if not all, of my colleagues found it embarrassing and humiliating to see one of Canada's most noble civil servants at the bar on the floor of the House of Commons. The New Democrats and the Bloc joined with the Conservatives to humiliate a civil servant who should be applauded for his efforts over the last 12 months. He was publicly humiliated by being addressed in the manner he was, on the floor of the House of Commons, and it was distasteful. I say shame to the NDP, the Bloc and the Conservatives.

There were alternatives. If they did not want to take shots at the civil service, they could have dealt with it in other ways. For example, the Minister of Health provided the unredacted information to the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, which was made up of parliamentarians from all political parties. Instead of passing the motion they did, they could have passed a motion for that committee to table the documents they wanted from the civil service. After all, the civil service provided the unredacted copies to that committee, not to mention that documents that had been redacted for national interest and security reasons were sent to another standing committee.

The political partisanship we are seeing today is making the chamber, for all intents and purposes, dysfunctional. We have seen the official opposition, less than a week ago, come to the floor of the House of Commons and within an hour of debate attempt to shut down Parliament for the day. It actually moved a motion to adjourn the House. The opposition is oozing with hypocrisy. On the one hand, it criticizes the government for not allowing enough time for debate, and on the other hand it tries to shut down the chamber in order to prevent debate.

If we were to look up the definitions of the words “hypocrisy” and “irony” in Webster's, which I have not, I wonder if they would describe what we are seeing from the opposition party, which moves concurrence debate, not once or twice but on many occasions, so that the government is not able to move forward on legislation, including Bill C-30, which we are debating today. That legislation is there to support Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Members of the Liberal caucus have fought day in and day out to ensure those voices are heard, brought to Ottawa and ultimately formulating policy that will take Canada to the next level. However, we have an official opposition that I would suggest has gone too far with respect to its resistance and destructive force on the floor of the House of Commons.

I have stated before that I have been a parliamentarian for approximately 30 years, the vast majority of which were in opposition. I am very much aware of how important it is that we protect the interests of opposition members and their rights. I am very much aware of the tactics opposition parties will use, but at a time when Canadians need us to work together, we have an official opposition that is acting as an obstructive force. When we talk about how Bill C-30 will be there to support small businesses and put money in the pockets of Canadians so they have the disposable income necessary to pay the bills that are absolutely essential, the Conservative Party continues to play that destructive role. It continues to focus on character assassination and on ways to make something out of something that is often not real. The Conservatives are more concerned about political partisanship than getting down to work, which was clearly demonstrated last Thursday. They are more concerned about character assassination, as we saw the official opposition, with the unholy opposition alliance, take personal shots at a national hero, someone we all know as the Minister of National Defence. This is unacceptable behaviour we are witnessing.

We have critically important legislation before the House. We can think about the types of things Bill C-30 would do for Canadians. If we want to prevent bankruptcies from taking place, we need to support this legislation, as it supports small businesses through the extension of the wage subsidy program, a program that has helped millions of Canadians, supporting tens of thousands of businesses from coast to coast to coast.

This is the type of legislation that we are actually debating today. It is not the only progressive, good, solid legislation that we have brought forward. Yesterday, through a closure motion, we were able to push through Bill C-10. We can imagine that legislation not being updated for 30 years. It is a major overhaul. We can think about what the Internet looked like 30 years ago, compared to today.

The Liberal government understands, especially during this pandemic, and we see it in the budget, the importance of our arts community, whether it was with Bill C-10 yesterday, where the government had to push hard to get it through, or the budget implementation bill today, where we are again having to use time allocation. It is not because we want to, but because we have to.

If we do not take measures of this nature, the legislation would not pass. The opposition parties, combined, often demonstrate that if the government is not prepared to take the actions it is taking, we would not get legislation through this House. The opposition parties want to focus on electioneering. We have been very clear, as the Prime Minister has stated, that our priority is the pandemic and taking the actions necessary in order to serve Canadians on the issue. It is the opposition parties that continuously talk about elections.

In my many years as a parliamentarian, in the month of June we have often seen legislation passing. It happens. It is a part of governance. One would expect to see a higher sense of co-operation from opposition parties, in particular from the official opposition party, not the obstruction that members have witnessed, not the humiliation that we have seen on the floor of the House of Commons at times.

Liberal members of the House are prepared to continue to work toward serving Canadians by passing the legislation that is necessary before the summer break. We still have time to address other pieces of legislation. Minutes prior to going into this debate, I was on a conference call in regard to Bill C-19. Again, it is an important piece of legislation. I challenge my colleagues on the opposition benches to come forward and say that we should get that legislation passed so that it could go to the Senate.

I mentioned important progressive pieces of legislation, and the one that comes to my mind, first and foremost, is this legislation, Bill C-30. Next to that, we talk a lot about Bill C-6, on conversion therapy. We talk a lot about Bill C-10, dealing with the modernization of broadcasting and the Internet, and going after some of these large Internet companies.

We talk about Bill C-12 and net zero, about our environment. We can check with Canadians and see what they have to say about our environment and look at the actions taken by opposition parties in preventing the types of progressive legislation we are attempting to move forward with.

We understand that not all legislation is going to be passed. We are not saying the opposition has to pass everything. We realize that in a normal situation not all government legislation is going to pass in the time frame we have set forth, given the very nature of the pandemic, but it is not unrealistic for any government, minority or majority, to anticipate that there would be a higher sense of co-operation in dealing with the passing of specific pieces of legislation. Bill C-30 is definitely one of those pieces of legislation.

Unfortunately, some opposition members will have the tenacity to say they are being limited and are unable to speak to and address this particular important piece of legislation. Chances are we are going to hear them say that. To those members, I would suggest they look at the behaviour of the Conservative official opposition and remind them of the Conservative opposition's attempts to delay, whether it is through adjourning debates, calling for votes on those kinds of proceedings, concurrence motions or using questions of privilege and points of order as a way to filibuster, which all happen to be during government business.

Bill C-3 was a bill that initially came forward a number of years ago from Rona Ambrose, the then leader of the Conservative Party, about judges. We can look at the amount of debate that occurred on that piece of legislation. It is legislation that could have and should have passed the House with minimal debate. It was hours and hours, days, of debate. Even though the Conservatives supported the legislation, even back then they did not want to have the government passing legislation.

Their purpose is to frustrate the government, prevent the government from being able to pass legislation, and then criticize us for not being able to pass legislation. What hypocrisy this is. Sadly, over the last week or so, we have seen the other opposition parties buy into what the Conservative opposition is doing, which has made it even more difficult.

As much as the unholy alliance of opposition parties continues to do these things and frustrate the floor of the House, I can assure Canadians that, whether it is this Prime Minister or my fellow members of Parliament within the caucus, we will continue day in, day out to focus our attention on the pandemic and minimizing its negative impacts.

We are seeing results. Over 32 million vaccine doses have been administered to Canadians. We are number one in first doses in the world. We have close to 35 million doses already in Canada, and we will have 50 million before the end of the month. Canada is positioning itself well, even with the frustration coming from opposition parties. We will continue to remain focused on serving Canadians, and Bill C-30 is an excellent example of the way in which we are going to ensure that Canadians get out of this in a better position. We are building back better for all Canadians.

EthicsOral Questions

June 21st, 2021 / 2:35 p.m.
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Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, can my colleague tell me when the Conservatives will stop blocking the budget? Can he tell me when they will stop blocking Bill C‑10 so we can get the web giants to start contributing? When will they stop blocking Bill C‑12 so that we can continue working for the future of our children and grandchildren? When will they stop blocking Bill C‑6, on a process that harms our youth and the LGBTQ+ community?

When will they stop blocking these progressive bills, and when will the Bloc Québécois and the NDP stop supporting the Conservatives' antics and start helping us and all Canadians?

EthicsOral Questions

June 21st, 2021 / 2:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals did not add Bill C‑6 to the agenda for four months, and they spent 183 hours filibustering in committee. The Leader of the Government is the one who is unable to manage the House. That is the reality.

The member for Malpeque told the Globe and Mail that the Liberal Party gathers partisan information from constituency offices. He said that MPS have to be careful in how they handle the system, to avoid misusing the information for partisan gain.

To sum up, the Prime Minister has a good friend who travelled with him to the Aga Khan's island and a close friend who runs the partisan Liberalist with money paid out of the public budgets of 149 MPs. He is asking Canadians to believe that no rules were broken. Who ordered the payments?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 5:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, as I resume my speech from over a week ago, I want to echo the concerns that many people have brought forward about Bill C-6 and its definition of conversion therapy. Canadians from across the country have expressed concern and asked parliamentarians to fix the definition as they are concerned about private conversations and freely chosen, voluntary counselling being criminalized.

Looking back at the committee that studied this bill, there were concerns expressed by several witnesses along these lines, with members of multiple parties endorsing that position as well. The member for the Bloc at the justice committee, the member for Rivière-du-Nord, expressed concerns about the impacts of the legislation. Along with the testimony from witnesses, many briefs were submitted to the committee. Almost 300 individuals and groups wrote briefs, which means that Canadians were interested in and concerned about this bill. The justice committee did not even take the necessary time to have the briefs translated or reviewed before it voted and adopted this bill. Why did the committee members not take the time to read over these briefs? Many Canadians are wondering.

Fixing the definition is what Canadians are asking for. The Liberal government has failed Canadians by coming up with a definition that does not have unanimous support in this place. Conservatives are opposed to conversion therapy and are looking forward to a bill that would ban conversion therapy and not conversations.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 5:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Dane Lloyd Conservative Sturgeon River—Parkland, AB

Madam Speaker, today we are debating a very unfortunately worded piece of legislation, Bill C-6, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding conversion therapy. I say it is unfortunate because this legislation fails to accurately define what conversion therapy is. It fails to provide clarity for Canadians, and I believe that it puts LGBTQ+ Canadians, children, parents, religious leaders and medical professionals at risk.

From the outset, I have been clear that I do not support conversion therapy, which involves coercive, involuntary and abusive practices that seek to change someone's sexual orientation. The evidence we have heard is clear: These practices have been harmful to those who have participated and they should not be allowed to continue.

The problem I have as a legislator is that the government has adopted a definition of conversion therapy that goes far beyond the scope of this harmful practice, and risks creating significant harms for families as a result. Going by the very definition the government has included in the legislation, we are asked to accept that even discouraging someone from “non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour or non-cisgender gender expression” is a criminal act of conversion therapy.

The Minister of Justice has tried to assure members of the House that honest discussions about sexuality will not be criminalized under this act, but it is very apparent that the wording has been left so vague as to open up the very real possibility that the courts could interpret honest discussions about sexuality as potentially criminal. Without further clarification, we are introducing confusion into the Criminal Code, which could potentially lead to many honest Canadians being subject to a criminal investigation for honest discussions about sexuality.

The legislation is also potentially very harmful to children under the age of 16, who I believe are unable to truly consent to life-altering surgeries and drug regimens to achieve gender transition. This legislation could lead to the criminalization of important information streams that are essential for people to make informed decisions regarding gender transitions. In the recent United Kingdom High Court decision of Bell v. Tavistock, the court ruled that it is highly unlikely that children under 13 could truly consent to the use of puberty blockers. The court also analyzed the considerable effects of these treatments and concluded that it was even doubtful that children under the age of 16 could understand the long-term risks and consequences of these treatments.

This legislation potentially undermines the ability of medical professionals to share critical medical information that may lead to discouraging a child from undergoing a gender transition. The consequences for these children, as we have seen in the Tavistock case, are permanent and tragic. This puts LGBTQ+ youth at significant risk, as they may not be given access to the necessary medical information and frank advice needed for them to make informed decisions.

I am also very concerned over the effect this legislation could have on families, the foundational building blocks of a free society. The inclusion of gender expression and penalties for the repression of non-cisgender behaviour creates risks for families that could result in bad outcomes for children.

It is not hard to imagine a young boy who wants to go to school dressed in female clothes. Many parents would force their child to wear what they believe are gender-appropriate clothes, and I believe in the majority of those cases the parents are doing it out of a genuine care and concern for the well-being of their child. When that child goes to school, perhaps he will tell the teacher that he believes he is of another gender and that his parents refuse to let him wear female clothing. If the practice of conversion therapy, as poorly defined by the government, is made a criminal offence, teachers would probably have little choice but to report the parents to children's services for allegations of emotional abuse. The ramifications of this outcome would be highly damaging to the welfare of children, families and society. The definition of conversion therapy must be clarified, and the rights of well-meaning parents who are caring for their children must be protected.

One result of this legislation is that it could lead to an infringement on the rights of LGBTQ+ Canadians to seek out services they may genuinely wish to access. In my exploration of this topic, I spoke with members of the LGBTQ+ community who, for religious or personal reasons, felt they did not want to engage in certain activities.

In some cases, members of these communities may have been struggling with issues of sex addiction or sexual practices that could lead to serious physical, emotional or spiritual consequences. Under this legislation, it would not necessarily be illegal to offer services that would be covered under the definition of “conversion therapy” to consenting adults. However, it would be very difficult for LGBTQ+ adults to find or access these services considering the effect of this legislation, which is essentially to make these services impossible to advertise and, by extension, to access in Canada.

This could even lead to cases of discrimination, whereby a heterosexual who is seeking counsel and support for dealing with sex addiction or harmful sexual behaviours will receive treatment, but an LGBTQ+ person would be turned away. I do not think the government intended to discriminate against LGBTQ Canadians, but I believe that it is a very real possibility under this legislation as it has been drafted. Again, this demonstrates why the flawed definition of “conversion therapy” is leading to confusion and significant potential adverse outcomes for LGBTQ Canadians.

Furthermore, the legislation's poor definition of “conversion therapy” could potentially lead to outcomes whereby well-meaning people with bonafide constitutionally protected beliefs will be made into criminals. When people are driven by a sincere desire to help those who come to them struggling with issues, they should not be treated as criminals for sharing their perspective. In the case of religious leaders who are approached by members of their congregation looking for guidance, I believe that under this legislation, the very act of even sharing passages of the Bible could be considered a criminal act of conversion therapy.

These provisions create the very real possibility of criminal sanctions against those who hold unpopular opinions in whole or in part because of those opinions. Punishing people for having unpopular opinions or beliefs is not a Canadian value. Given the religious views of conservative Muslims and Christians, among others, it is probable that those impacted by this legislation will be people who come from various faith backgrounds. This is potentially a case of enforcing religious discrimination.

Jail time is not an appropriate punishment for those who hold differing viewpoints, particularly religious views. The criminal penalties in this legislation, which include a maximum of between two and five years in prison, are on par with assault, abandonment of a child and infanticide. To treat people who hold constitutionally protected beliefs on par with those who kill children is completely disproportionate. I propose to the government that the provisions of this act are already addressed by human rights legislation and human rights tribunals. Given that we are debating competing rights, such as the equality rights of LGBTQ Canadians and the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of religion, it would be far better to delegate the adjudication of these difficult decisions to a body that is equipped to deal with them.

In cases where there is evidence of harm related to conversion therapy, such as forcible confinement, assault or kidnapping, the Criminal Code already has significant mechanisms to deal with these matters. In cases where there is a dispute between people over what is and what is not legitimate to say to somebody regarding their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, it would be far better for the human rights tribunals to be investigating and making decisions on these matters rather than the criminal courts.

In closing, I have illustrated a number of reasons, including the poor definition, the potential for discrimination and the possibility that human rights tribunals could do a far better job of adjudicating these difficult decisions on competing rights, that I cannot support this legislation at this time. I believe that Bill C-6 would harm some LGBTQ Canadians, some families and society in general, which outweighs the potential benefits outlined in it. If the government is truly interested in working in good faith with concerned Canadians, it will commit to amending the definition in this legislation to provide clarity and protections for families, counsellors and medical professionals.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 6:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to once again enter into debate in this place, and to do so on an important subject that should be a unifying force among all Canadians. Unfortunately, we have seen politics being played in a way that is inhibiting the ability to accomplish what is intended here.

Let me first clarify a couple of things on which I have heard some of my colleagues asking questions. It is unfortunate, because time and time again we Conservatives have made it very clear that we are opposed to conversion therapy, as have I. All Canadians deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, yet we have seen time and time again throughout this debate the politicization of a very important subject for partisan gain. I find it unfortunate that this has been the case with this dialogue, and in some cases we have seen the shutting down of dialogue.

I have heard from many constituents on this matter. I have heard from folks across Canada and on both sides of the issue. What I found very interesting is that the dialogue that has been offered by members of the House, and in some cases not just members of the Conservative Party but other parties as well, has been very constructive in ensuring that there is a legitimate, respectful discussion about something that has truly had a significant impact on people's lives and that needs to be addressed. However, we have seen some members try to dismiss some of the valid concerns that have been brought forward, which has taken away from what could have been a unifying discussion among all Canadians. I am troubled that this has been a game played by the Liberal government time and time again.

My colleagues have articulated very well some of the concerns related to the definition of conversion therapy and some of the possible unintended consequences of legislation that is not specifically clear. In fact, I would point to members of the Liberal Party specifically; when the Minister of Justice was asked questions on the bill, he acknowledged that there were some challenges in the possible interpretations of the legislation before us.

However, I will go back a little further, because I think that the context for the discussion that we are having today is very important.

The bill was introduced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which we all know ended up basically seeing the legislative agenda of the government shut down for an extended period of time. After Parliament was prorogued, a whole bunch of bills had to be reintroduced. First, to the inevitable questions that will come from members of the government party who are somehow blaming Conservatives for being obstructionists, I would simply suggest that the 35-plus-day delay, the committee dysfunction that has resulted from the government covering up various aspects of investigations into its members' conduct and whatnot, has led to a significant delay.

However, what could have been an opportunity on a bill like this was not taken advantage of. Again, it was an opportunity to unify Canadians around an important discussion. The Liberals did not take advantage of that. When the government brought forward this legislation prior to the pandemic, some concerns were raised, and some of my colleagues raised those concerns. Interest across this country on both sides of the debate raised concerns on this subject. However, when the government reintroduced the bill in the fall, it did not take the opportunity to clarify some of these aspects of the bill. That, I would suggest, would have been a much more straightforward process to allow Canadians to be unified in opposition to something that all Canadians are opposed to, which is conversion therapy. The fact is that the Liberals did not take advantage of the opportunity to provide leadership and carefully consider some of the issues that had been brought to their attention.

The result is that close to a year and a half later, we are seeing this debated, and some of the accusations that are being made by members opposite are certainly very troubling and call into question the integrity of certain members of this House. That is unfortunate. We need to be able to have dialogue and discussion and ensure that we are all working in the best interests of our constituents.

I have heard from constituents on this matter, including before the current Bill C-6 debate. I have heard members of the Liberal Party talk about how nobody shares the views that I and a number of other Conservatives have articulated when it comes to concerns, and that is simply not true. The fact is that there are those who have raised concerns. The member for Sturgeon River—Parkland who spoke previously talked about some of the challenges in relation to the committee work that was done. The committee had a significant number of briefs that were submitted but not considered. It is our job as parliamentarians and legislators to ensure that we take great care in things as simple as the wording of a definition, and also the bigger picture, the possible implications of legislation and the possible impact that this legislation could have on, for example, people of faith and various folks within the LGBT community. Unfortunately, we saw that those concerns were dismissed, and when there was an opportunity within committee to have a wholesome discussion, we saw politics being played instead. I find that very unfortunate.

Further, we could have seen the definition fixed and some clarity added to this particular piece of legislation. I would suggest that if this were the only piece of legislation in which this sort of issue was brought forward, then it might be a fair criticism, but the reality is that it is not. Time and time again we see legislation brought forward by the current government that seems to be intentionally divisive. That is not leadership. It is unfortunate that in a debate as significant as this one, we are seeing politics being played.

I have no doubt that there will be those who are ready to attack members of the Conservative Party who may vote against this bill. To those, I would share a couple of brief comments.

I mentioned earlier that I have heard from many constituents on this matter, including before the issue was initially voted on, and I took great care on both sides of the issue to speak to a number of those individuals. There were countless phone calls, emails and messages back and forth regarding this subject, and in the respectful dialogue that ensued, I saw something incredible happen, something that is unique to democratic discourse, and that was the idea of respect.

The fact is that not everybody who reached out agreed with the position the government has or the position that I had in terms of the opposition to this bill at second reading, but after discussion, dialogue and respectful discourse, there was a level of unity that I found very encouraging, and it is unfortunate that this has not always translated into this discussion that we now have on the floor, whether physically or virtually, in this House of Commons.

It is that sort of division that is causing a breakdown and a lack of trust in the work that needs to be accomplished by all of us as parliamentarians. In my case, I had hundreds of people, the vast majority of whom encouraged me to maintain my position on this matter and to share my concerns respectfully about the need to have clarity in this legislation. For members of the government to somehow suggest that this is an ideological escapade would be misleading at best and outright dishonest at worst, and I think it is a troubling trend we see within our democratic discourse.

Let me finish by saying this: It is important for us to have respectful dialogue in this place, and as someone who can be very partisan, I will say that we need to ensure that good governance, good legislation, respectful dialogue, and respect for Canadians and the rule of law are at the very forefront of all we do.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 6:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, during my presentation, I presented the personal and emotional testimonies of those who found that gender transition was not a permanent solution to their gender dysphoria and who found worth in their own process of detransition. These individuals have made their stories public, about detransitioning or deciding not to make transitions surgically or with the use of hormones. They stress that they are in no way wanting to be disrespectful toward other people's personal choices. As it stands, Bill C-6 would criminalize people like them.

As it is currently written, could the member speak to how this will restrict the free, respectful and exploratory speech of those with valuable lived experiences?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 6:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, the member brings up a very good point that we saw represented in much of the evidence that was presented to committee. The suggestion that somehow there is universal acceptance of Bill C-6 as a need to move forward to address these issues is simply incorrect.

There are many lived stories from Canadians from coast to coast who have demonstrated that it is not as clear cut as is being suggested and that the implications of this bill could be very severe and would actually take away the rights of Canadians who are living their lives. It is very troubling that could be one of the significant implications of a bill being passed that has not had the proper consideration and due debate around some of the very valid concerns that have been brought forward.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 6:25 p.m.
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NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, my question to the member for Battle River—Crowfoot is about a video that he posted on his Facebook page on May 21, 2020 taken from the website “fixthedefinition.ca”. This video promotes petitions opposing the ban on conversion therapy proposed in Bill C-6 and features a prominant social Conservative activist repeating disinformation about the provisions of Bill C-6. This video purports to give voice to those in the LGBTQ community opposed to the bill, but if people watch to the end, they can see the notice “produced by the offices of” the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and the member for Cloverdale—Langley City.

First, was the member aware that this piece of disinformation and propaganda was produced by two of his colleagues? Second, does his reposting of the video mean that he thinks producing such a video is a proper use of House of Commons funds?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 6:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, I do find it interesting that the member would be quoting from an article from a supposed “news site”. I say that with air quotes because it is funded by a wing of the NDP. It is this sort of divisiveness that is taking away from the very real concerns that have been brought forward about Bill C-6. For this member to hedge a premise of a question in a way that somehow alleges that there is nefarious intent behind the very real concerns that myself and other members of my party have brought forward regarding Bill C-6, is exactly why, and I wish the member would have listened more carefully to my speech. The need for respectful dialogue is paramount in this place so that we can all do our jobs as legislators to ensure that we are serving Canadians in the best way possible. Certainly, I endeavour to do that each and every day and I would encourage the member opposite to do so also.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 6:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, my question to that member would be very simple: Has he had the opportunity to read some of the evidence that was submitted to the committee when Bill C-6 was studied? If so, he would see very clearly that there is a wide variety of perspectives on this matter that demonstrate that it is not as clear cut as the divisive nature that certain individuals in this House are trying to make it out to be.

I would say, with great respect to many members of this House who have encouraged that effective dialogue, it is unfortunate that there are some who would stoop to such a low level that they would discourage what would ultimately result in better outcomes for Canadians.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 6:30 p.m.
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Independent

Derek Sloan Independent Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to rise on this issue. I understand that the opinions to counter this bill are not as numerous as the opinions in favour of it, but they are nonetheless no less important.

When I was watching the debate ensue at committee, I was not a part of the committee, but as an interested parliamentarian, I watched all of it. The debate with respect to witnesses and so forth was rather even-handed. I did not count the number of witnesses who raised concerns, versus those who were in favour of it, but there were plenty of professionals and other individual people who brought up real situations which would be technically against the letter of the law according to this, but I think we would all agree are legitimate concerns. I just want to, as best as I can, address those today. Ten minutes is not sufficient for that, but I will do my very best. Of course, time is lacking to do much of what we need to do in this House.

I am in support of a ban on harmful counselling. There are many other jurisdictions, governments and cities around the world that have banned conversion therapy, but in a different way. They have different definitions that are far less broad. Of course, many of them, if not all, outside of a few, are not criminal in nature. I think it is problematic when we have a very broad definition that is also criminal because we want to ban harmful courses of practice, but we do not want to put people in jail who, frankly, do not deserve to be there.

As others have raised before, we want to be entirely certain that what we are targeting is, in fact, the evil that we are looking to target and not be overbroad in that ban. I am a little bit concerned that the assumptions that underpin this bill are faulty. When not all, but some of the assumptions are faulty we can be led astray. I just want to take issue with some of them.

The first is the myth that Bill C-6's definition of conversion therapy accurately identifies treatments that will be harmful and does so in a way that is not overbroad. I think, of course, that there are abusive practices out there and I think that we should aim to ban them, but what Bill C-6 has done here is to basically, in my view, when looking at the definition, outlaw any validated form of talk therapy for Canadians wishing to deal with various issues related to sexual attraction and gender identity. For those who would like to look into the proceedings of the committee, there are many examples of very credible witnesses who have gone through circumstances where they needed counselling to address certain things and their stories are credible. I do not have time to go through them all, but members can look at them.

I also want to say that with respect to transgender identification, particularly in children, there is a conversation going on globally right now that we are missing in this debate on Bill C-6.

In the U.K., the Government Equalities Office for example, is looking into whether the influence of social media and the discussion of gender identity with young people have contributed to the striking increase in referrals. When I get into some of the data here on the striking increase, I think we could all agree that there is something here that needs to be looked at. In the last 10 years, in the United Kingdom, which mirrors data from other countries, we have seen referrals to these gender clinics skyrocket. We have seen them increase by about 1,000% for boys and 4,400% for biological females.

These exponential rises, as I have said, are increasing in other western nations as well. We heard one of the members earlier speak about the United Kingdom High Court ruling with respect to Keira Bell. Keira Bell is one of the young women who was referred to the Tavistock institute, which is the clinic there that deals with gender referrals for gender identity. She was told that, if she went through the process, she would feel better about herself, so she went on to hormone blockers. She had a double mastectomy. She spent several years living, outwardly looking like a man, and she came to regret it. She was in her early twenties. She took the Tavistock institute to court saying she was not in a position where she could consent to this treatment, but was basically told that this would be the answer she needed to her life. It did not make anything better and, in fact, it made a lot of things worse.

The court ruled that people under 16 could likely not consent to puberty-blocking treatments. This bill does the opposite. This bill says that if someone wants to put their child on hormone blockers or if they want to basically put them on the road to surgery, that is totally fine, but to give them the wrong type of counselling could get them in trouble.

Some people would say that there is a clause in the bill that allows people to explore. However, the fact is we heard from very competent professionals in committee that this clause would not be enough, when there is potentially a five-year jail term hanging over people's head.

We heard from Ken Zucker, an internationally renowned expert in gender identity. He was basically working with our clinic here, CAMH, for decades. He is internationally renowned in this field. He has literally written the book on how to treat gender identity in children. He was accused of conversion therapy a few years ago. He was fired from his position, summarily. He had the wherewithal and the resources to take his employer to court. He won a substantial settlement. He cleared his name.

This is the type of thing that we are seeing, before Bill C-6. If this is the sort of witch hunt environment we are seeing before Bill C-6, it is going to increase significantly with Bill C-6.

Other than the U.K., we are seeing other countries in Europe, Sweden and Finland, have gone even a step further. They are moving away from what is called affirmation-only models of care, which I suggest is what Bill C-6 is, this is what other professionals in committee said about this bill. In Sweden and Finland, they are saying there must be a sober second look when a child identifies as transgender. A sober second look is the very thing that I believe Bill would criminalize.

Bill C-6 would criminalize parents who want to discourage their young child from transitioning, who would not be making life-altering decisions. I do not believe it is hateful for a parent to make a decision based on accurate medical facts.

When it comes to transgender identification in children, reliable data indicates the vast majority of kids who identify as another gender would grow out of it, meaning by the time they become an adult, many of up them, up to 80% according to some studies, will identify or accept the body they were born with. I think that given data like that, we really need to give a lot of room here for kids to explore but not to push them on this one-track mode of puberty blockers and eventually surgery. This is what is being criticized by people like Keira Bell.

I read an article in the National Post a year or so ago by Barbara Kay that highlighted the story of a young girl, JB is the acronym used, a child who is currently involved in an application in the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. This involves a teacher in an Ottawa area school who told this six year-old that girls do not exist. This six-year-old was a happy, loving young girl. I have a seven-year-old, a six-year-old and a five-year-old. The seven- and five-year-olds are girls.

This six-year-old became distraught, withdrawn and depressed. She did not understand what it meant. The parents asked the teacher if she could just cool it on some of these ethereal gender theory comments. The teacher and administration refused to do this, and the parents had to take that girl out of that school. They moved her to a different school, and have taken this particular school board to court.

The girl is once again a happy, well-adjusted young girl. It just goes to show that we have to be careful what we are putting into the minds of our young children. What the U.K. high court case found is that once these kids were put onto these drugs, the hormone blockers, it pretty much puts them on the road to surgery. It is kind of like a one-track street.

We need to be very careful. We need to have a sober second look in this country.

There are in fact many people, even in LGB communities, who are against this bill. I will read an email I received. It said:

Dear Mr. Derek Sloan,

As a Lesbian, I am asking you to investigate the use of gender identity in bill C-6. Approximately 75% of trans identifying youth will grow up to be gay or lesbian, if not affirmed and medically transitioned. This bill, as written, ensures that these gay and lesbian youth will be medically transitioned into straight adults.

She goes on to say:

Please protect vulnerable Gay and Lesbian youth from being told that they are“born in the wrong body” and told they should transition to feel “right” and to “fit in”. Sincerely...

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2021 / 6:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, this is interesting to hear because the personal and emotional testimonies I shared in my speech were all of young people who had transitioned in their teens and then realized in their early twenties that gender transition was not a permanent solution to their gender dysphoria, and they were in their own process of detransition.

Clearly there is a concern here, as has been mentioned. I am wondering if he would expand further on how Bill C-6, as currently written, could very well restrict the freedom of the respectful and exploratory speech of these individuals with valuable lived experience.

Motions in amendmentGovernment Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act

June 21st, 2021 / 9:35 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it is a shame that I only get 10 minutes to speak to this legislation, with all those amendments. I will try to be as concise as I can and provide some thoughts in regard to the last speech and, in particular, that last amazing question from the Conservative member.

It is important to recognize at the beginning that the very core of Bill C-10, from my perspective and I believer the way my caucus colleagues look at it, is to promote Canadian music, storytelling and creative works. The bill is about fairness and getting American web giants to pay their fair share and contribute to our cultural sector. That is absolutely necessary.

Before I expand on that, it is a bit much to hear the Conservatives refer the legislative agenda and say that it has been mismanaged. It is somewhat ridiculous that the Conservative members would even suggest such a thing when they are at the core of the problem. The Conservatives will say that they do not have enough time to debate and will ask why the government is bringing in different forms of time allocation, yet it is the Conservative Party that consistently wastes time on the floor of the House of Commons. Last Thursday, we were just getting under way and the Conservatives tried to adjourn debate for the day, they wanted to stop debate. They did not want to work anymore, and we were only on a Thursday morning.

What about the motions for concurrence the Conservative Party continuously raise? What about the raising of privileges and points of order as a mechanism to filibuster on the floor of the House of Commons? Government business, unlike Private Members' Business or opposition days, has a process that makes it very vulnerable to opposition parties. Whenever there are 12 or more members, it makes it very difficult for government to pass legislation if one of those opposition parties wants to make it difficult.

The Conservative Party of Canada members in the House of Commons have made it their mission to prevent the government from passing anything. We have seen that destructive force in the House of Commons. I do not think they have a case whatsoever to complain about debate times on pieces of legislation. We tried on numerous occasions to bring certain bills up or to extend hours to facilitate their needs, but the Conservatives have said that if they cannot get what they want, they will waste time. The government then has to bring in some form of closure or time allocation or nothing will ever get passed. We have seen that, and Bill C-10 is one example. They need to wake up.

The minister has done a fantastic job of bringing forward to the House legislation that would modernize an act that has not been modernized for three decades. Is it absolutely perfect? There was some need to make some modifications. Some of those modifications have, in fact, occurred. However, the spin that the Conservatives put on this is that it is terrible legislation that should never, ever see the light of day. We know the legislation would never be able to pass if it did not get the support from at least one opposition party.

It is not the Government of Canada ramming the legislation through. Often it feels as if it is the Government of Canada pleading and begging opposition to recognize the value and try to drum up support within the House. Fortunately, once again, at least one political party is prepared to see this legislation advance. I truly do appreciate it.

Bill C-10, as I said, is, at the core, promoting Canadian music, storytelling and creative work. The Conservatives argue against it, that somehow it limits freedom of speech, and they cite a number of examples. However, the Department of Justice has done an analysis of the legislation and has clearly indicated that it is consistent with the charter guarantee of freedom of speech, and that is coming from civil servants.

I wish the Conservatives would recognize that the bill would ensure that the act would not apply to users of social media services or to social media services themselves for content posted by their users. However, to listen to what the Conservatives are saying, one would not think that, because it does not fit their narrative.

The bill aims to update some critical elements of the broadcasting policy for Canada. For example, it would ensure that the creation of Canadian content is reflective of Canadian society and accessible to all Canadians. The bill would also amend the act to ensure that there is a greater account for things such as indigenous cultures and languages. It would also recognize that Canada's broadcasting system should serve the needs and interests of all Canadians, including racialized communities and our very diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socioeconomic status, abilities, disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions of age.

I can tell my Conservative friends, in particular, that things have changed since the act was really updated. The Internet was in its infancy. When I first got the chance to speak to the legislation, I made reference to the fact that when I was first elected 30-plus years ago as a Manitoba parliamentarian, the Internet was accessed by dialing up through the telephone, and I think it was on a 256-kilobytes Compaq computer. Actually, I started off with a small Apple computer that I put floppy disks into. Contrast that to what the Internet is today and how advanced technology continues to push us. We, at least on the government benches, recognize that this is change that needs to take place.

Unlike the Conservative Party, we recognize the true, intrinsic value of culture and heritage, and Canada's diversity continues to grow on a daily basis. We need to modernize the legislation. It is there for all Canadians, which is the reason this government is bringing forward this legislation, as well as other important legislation, whether it is Bill C-6 or Bill C-12.

This is solid, progressive legislation that is going to make a tangible difference, and this is why it is so sad at times when we see the unholy alliance of opposition parties trying to frustrate the government in getting through a legislative agenda that we can all be proud of before the summer break, which is something that is done all the time in June when government gives that final push before the summer break.

I would ask members to get behind this legislation and do what I and my Liberal caucus colleagues are doing: support it, and let us move on to more legislation.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2021 / 1:30 p.m.
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NDP

Taylor Bachrach NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.

It is always an honour to rise in the House, even the virtual House, on behalf of the people of Skeena—Bulkley Valley. In fact, in some ways it is even more significant to rise on their behalf in this way because, if I turn my head to the right, I can see the people of this wonderful place walking by outside my office, and it reminds me of the sacred responsibility that I have to do well by them in this place.

I have spoken to LGBTQ youth about what it was like growing up in small rural towns in northern British Columbia. Most of them who grew up in towns like Smithers, where I live, in the 1980s and 1990s say it was not a very tolerant place. Many of them left as soon as they could, off to places where they were more free to be themselves. That is changing, and that is a very good thing.

My office is half a block down from Smithers’s rainbow crosswalk, first painted in 2016. As mayor at the time, I was proud to help make the crosswalk happen, but really it was the work a woman named Anna Ziegler, who wrote to council and got the ball rolling on that initiative.

In the following years it has been repainted, and of course, in northern B.C., these things have to be repainted because of our harsh winters, and the road sand and salt that gets put down every year. In the following years the crosswalk was repainted by the fabulous leaders of the local Girl Guides patrol, who had to don Tyvek suits and respirators to survive the perils of the industrial road paint. It was quite a scene.

A couple years later, in 2018, the group Smithers Pride was formed and the community’s first community-wide pride event was held. At the time, Safeway and the BCGEU teamed up to hold a barbecue. We blocked off the street and it was a wonderful event. I thought it might be northern B.C.'s first pride event, but then I learned that the tiny village of Masset on Haida Gwaii not only has a pride event, but it has four rainbow crosswalks.

I mention all of this because the community where I live, and indeed our entire region, is becoming a place where everyone, no matter their sexuality or gender identity or expression, receives the full measure of respect, belonging, safety and rights, and it is worth celebrating.

This month is pride month, a good month to be conducting this final debate on this important bill before us. Before I talk about the bill itself, I want to recognize some of the folks who have been leading the way when it comes to making my home community a more inclusive place, especially Perry Rath, who is a teacher at Smithers Secondary School, and Brianna van Donselaar, Sophie Perodeau and Sarah Payne. I thank them for the important work they have done and continue to do.

Bill C-6 is about protecting people from a practice that has no place in our society. Let us be clear about what conversion therapy is. The definition in the bill before us calls it, “a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to change a person’s gender identity or gender expression to cisgender or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour or non-cisgender gender expression.”

I read the Department of Justice’s charter statement on Bill C-6, and its description of the harms of conversion therapy is worth repeating here, because it underlines, I believe, why this bill is so important:

Conversion therapy has been denounced by medical and psychological professionals as being ineffective and the source of harm and potential harm. Conversion therapy has resulted, or risks resulting, in harms such as distress, anxiety, depression, stigma, shame, negative self-image, a feeling of personal failure, difficulty sustaining relationships, sexual dysfunction and having serious thoughts or plans of—or attempting—suicide. Its continued existence also harms the dignity of LGBTQ2 people by perpetuating myths and stereotypes based on sexual orientation or gender identity—in particular, that the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ2 people is undesirable and can and should be changed.

The harms of conversion therapy are clear and well established. This practice has no place in a free, tolerant society such as Canada's, and it is incumbent upon all of us as elected representatives to protect the SOGI community from these harms. Everyone in Canada should be free to love whom they love and be who they are, free from stigma, intolerance and coercion.

Bill C-6 would ban the following: causing an individual to undergo conversion therapy against their will; causing a child to undergo conversion therapy; removing a child from Canada to undergo conversion therapy abroad; receiving a financial or other material benefit from the provision of conversion therapy; and, finally, advertising and offering to provide conversion therapy.

It is clear that there are some Conservative members in this place who oppose the bill and will vote against it, and to be clear, I have met with constituents of mine who have deep misgivings. Most of these misgivings purport to be based on the notion that conversations or counsel between parents and children, or between pastors and those they counsel, could be wrongly caught up in the bill's provisions. These are fair considerations for us to discuss in the debate on this legislation.

However, I would note that the justice committee has addressed this by adding a “for greater certainty” clause that highlights what the definition of conversion therapy does not include, namely, “a practice, treatment or service that relates to the exploration and development of an integrated personal identity without favouring any particular sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression”. I believe that this should provide some peace of mind as we move forward.

There are two other important amendments I will note. Changing “against a person's will” to the phrase “without consent” utilizes wording that is much more commonly used and understood. Importantly, broadening the scope of the definition of conversion therapy to include “gender identity” and “gender expression” not only makes it consistent with the language used in other legal protections, but also allows it to address new forums of conversion therapy.

I will end my remarks today by acknowledging the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, whose work on the bill has been exemplary and who, sadly, has been the target of harassment and online hate for his work. He is a champion for the rights of the SOGI community, and his work in this place is creating a legacy of safety, inclusion and protection of fundamental rights. I thank the hon. member.

We have a decent bill in front of us that moves us forward as a country and would provide legal protection for people who deserve it. Love is love, and people deserve to simply be who they are. I will end by mentioning that I spoke about the bill to my 16-year-old daughter. I told her that Parliament was working to make conversion therapy illegal. She said, “You mean it's legal?” That is exactly what I think as well.

I wish members a happy pride month. Now let us make this law.