RE: Vote on Bill C-6: Third Reading – Statement posted on Facebook, June 24, 2021
June 26, 2021
Dear Mr. Barlow,
June is Pride month, a month where we bring awareness to LGBTQIA2+ issues, and celebrate people of all sexual and gender orientations, expressions and identities. So when a bill that has direct implications to this community of Canadians comes to a vote during Pride Month, one would hope that legislators would have at least read the document before they voted on it.
It is obvious to me that you did not. When being called out for not supporting this fragile community during a month when they are supposed to feel the safest, you released a statement that made that evident.
Your claim that the definition of conversion therapy is too broad is flawed and a fundamental level. At one point that may have been true, but if you had read the bill before you at third reading, you would have seen that the work of committees had resolved that issue, and the concerns of those who submitted briefs to that committee were addressed.
You state that the Canadian Psychological Association does not use the same definition as Bill C-6, and that no other professional body does. While that may be true, it is the exact definition provided to legislators by a collection of 120 academics and researchers, a link to which you have already received, but I also provide here for your convenience. Additionally, it is obvious in the Canadian Psychological Association's policy statement published in 2015 that the spirit of the definition in Bill C-6 is parallel to their own definition of conversion therapy (a link is provided below to direct you to that policy statement). Bill C-6 adheres to the spirit of the Canadian Psychological Association's definition, and you should recognize that and honour that.
By saying you think the definition is too broad, you are suggesting that there are activities that fit the definition in Bill C-6 that should not be considered "conversion therapy". By no logical leap whatsoever we can then surmise that you believe there to be a type of "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" that would not be harmful, as has been documented by the Canadian Psychological Association. So I continued to read your statement to determine what made you come to that conclusion, and it became obvious that you didn't read what you voted on. According to you, you even attempted to change the definition at committee and that those changes were not adopted. But they were.
Had you fully read the bill, you would have noted the amended statement immediately following the original definition.
"For greater certainty, this definition does not include 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."
You would have known with absolute clarity that your concerns of "a mental health professional, a psychiatrist, a faith leader and even a parent" being charged criminally for having "conversations on sexuality with someone including their own child" are completely unfounded. As it refers specifically to "practice, treatment or service", parents themselves are excluded from the definition. Mental health professionals, psychiatrists and faith leaders are, through this definition, enabled to have conversations on sexuality with someone so long as those conversations do not meet the criteria the Canadian Psychological Association has documented as harmful. Therefore, your contention that the definition is too broad is baseless.
I am certain that had you read the bill, you would have been able to demonstrate unequivocally your opposition to forced conversion therapy, and perhaps conversion therapy of any kind. Had you read the bill, perhaps you would have risen to speak in support of it, instead of saying nothing during the various readings and meetings, and publishing a statement that demonstrates a complete lack of regard for LGBTQIA2+ people.
You claim to be interested in creating safe spaces to deal with substance abuse, mental health and suicides and claim to be against forced conversion therapy or causing a child to undergo conversion therapy. I teach and have taught many of these youth you purport to be interested in protecting. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that these youth in your constituency do not feel safe knowing their representative legislator has voted against banning conversion therapy. How dare you?
As a legislator, your constituents expect you to represent them. You chose to vote against Bill C-6. Having voted against it, having never said a word during readings, and having demonstrated you did not even give the amended bill due consideration, you have shown that you are not at all interested in the well-being of LGBTQIA2+ constituents in your region. Therefore, you do not represent us.
I expect better of our elected representatives. I ask that you reread Bill C-6 yourself, and not rely on word-of-mouth from your fellow CPC colleagues. Once you have reread it and recognize the blatant and obvious error of not recognizing that your concerns were addressed, I ask that you provide an apology to your constituents.
Your words were damaging, most especially to me and others in the LGBTQIA2+ community. But as we have learned, when we make mistakes in our past, there is always a path to reconcile with those who we have harmed. You just need to choose that path.
In Support of Conversion Therapy Prohibition Legislation in CanadaCanadian Psychological Association Policy Statement on Conversion/Reparative Therapy