13 of 14 Saskatchewan MPs among Conservatives who voted against bill banning conversion therapy

·3 min read
The Progress Pride flag flies in Charlottertown, P.E.I. (John Robertson/CBC - image credit)
The Progress Pride flag flies in Charlottertown, P.E.I. (John Robertson/CBC - image credit)

Thirteen of Saskatchewan's 14 MPs were among the 62 Conservatives who voted against a federal bill that would ban conversion therapy.

Michael Kram, Conservative MP for Regina—Wascana, was the only outlier from the province when he voted in favour of Bill C-6, which proposes changes to the Criminal Code that would outlaw conversion therapy and make it illegal to subject children to it.

"This is one issue I heard a considerable amount from my constituents about, and the consensus seems to be overwhelming that nobody is in favour of forced conversion therapy," said Kram. "That is the feedback I got from my riding, and that matches my personal view."

Those who voted against the federal bill in the House of Commons include three Saskatoon MPs who represent a community where conversion therapy has already been banned on a municipal level.

Kirk Fraser/CBC
Kirk Fraser/CBC

CBC reached out to the three Saskatoon MPs following their vote in the House of Commons.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for MP Brad Redekopp, who represents Saskatoon—West, said "MP Redekopp's vote speaks for itself."

Saskatoon—Grasswood MP Kevin Waugh and Saskatoon—University MP Corey Tocher did not respond to a request for comment.

Dr. Kristopher Wells, Canada research chair for the public understanding of sexual and gender minority youth at MacEwan University, said it wasn't just Saskatoon MPs who strayed away from the municipalities they represent.

MPs representing ridings in Edmonton and St. Albert — where conversion therapy has also been banned on the municipal level — voted against Bill C-6.

"It's really a gut-check moment to see who we elect, and in this case they're obviously really out of step with their constituents when their own municipalities are showing the leadership that they're failing to provide," Wells said.

The Trudeau government tabled the bill in the House of Commons in October 2020. It was adopted on third reading earlier this month, despite strong resistance from some Conservative MPs.

It reached second reading in the Senate on Monday before being referred to the committee on legal and constitutional affairs. The Senate is not scheduled to return until September 20 at the earliest.

Fifty-one Conservative MPs, including Conservative Party Leader Erin O'Toole, voted in favour of the bill.

WATCH | Frustration rises now that Bill C-6 may not receive royal assent before the Senate breaks for summer

Those opposed to the legislation have said the bill does not adequately define conversion therapy, meaning it risks banning "voluntary conversations" about sexuality.

"Conservatives are committed to ensuring protections are in place to ban conversion therapy in Canada and that the law targets coercive practices, and not conversations, as the Justice Department says the bill is intended to do," said Warren Steinley, MP for Regina—Lewvan in an emailed statement.

"As it is written, this legislation greatly oversteps its original intent. It amounts to more government intrusion on the lives of Canadians. Parents who are trying to do the best for their children are now faced with criminal charges for having a discussion."

The Canadian Psychological Association refers to conversion therapy as a type of pseudoscience, as there is no scientific research to support the efficacy of the practice.

In its official policy, the association says, "there is no evidence that the negative effects of conversion or reparative therapy counterbalance any distress caused by the social stigma and prejudice these individuals may experience."

Wells said people are often shocked to learn conversion therapy still occurs in Canada, sometimes in the form of exorcisms.

"There is a strong support for government legislation at all levels to eradicate a practice that is considered akin to torture," Wells said.

WATCH | Liberals' conversion therapy bill fails to pass the Senate before summer break

With the senate adjourned for the summer, Bill C-6 remains in limbo. If an election is called and Parliament is dissolved, the bill will die on the floor without passing.

"We can never underestimate the power of municipal leadership to lead change and at the end of the day we live in cities we live in communities and the bylaws and legislation matters," Wells said.

"It impacts our everyday lives, our safety, our sense of belonging, and inclusiveness."

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