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Monday, January 30, 2023
Op-ed: Unanimous consent on conversion therapy bill was a special moment in Parliament

Tony Baldinelli

Special to The Lake Report

On Wednesday, Dec. 1, something very special happened in the House of Commons.

Following Question Period, the Conservative shadow minister for justice, Rob Moore, rose from his seat, to declare a unanimous consent motion on government Bill C-4.

This bill would make it a crime to cause another person to undergo conversion therapy and make it a criminal offence to promote or profit from providing the practice.

During this process of calling a unanimous consent motion, all it takes is one dissenter to voice “nay” to nullify the effort and void the motion.

Once Moore concluded, the Speaker of the House twice asked members of Parliament for dissenters to voice their dissent. For a few, short suspenseful seconds, silence engulfed the chamber, before an eruption of applause and cheering broke out from members of all parties present.

It was a jubilant moment, all too rare to witness, and a moment I am very proud to be a part of as your MP for Niagara Falls riding.

A big reason why C-4 was able to be passed through this unanimous consent motion was because a similar bill, codified as Bill C-6, was considered and debated in the previous Parliament. Essentially, a lot of Parliament’s work had already been done at that time.

C-6 had been debated, studied at committee and voted on. It had passed through all stages of the House of Commons. In fact, it was awaiting the final stages of debate in the Senate, when it died suddenly, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided to call a risky and unnecessary pandemic election.

Another reason why C-4 passed so quickly in this Parliament was because little changed in the House of Commons following the election held in September.

Both major parties hold nearly the same number of seats now as they had before the election, and the leadership figures relevant to this file remain the same as well.

Essentially, the conditions of continuity between elections were a major reason why this legislation passed through so quickly, through a unanimous consent motion this time.

I, and my Conservative colleagues, believe conversion therapy is wrong and it should be banned.

Simply put, no Canadian should ever be forced to change who they are.

Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and that is why Canada’s Conservatives ran on a commitment to ban conversion therapy and attempts to forcibly change a person’s sexual identity.

Last week's unanimous consent motion essentially sent the legislation back to the Senate for the review process it was precluded from having when the Trudeau government killed its own legislative agenda by calling the September election. And on Dec. 7, the Senate approved Bill C-4.

Far too often, the Trudeau government has delayed important projects, legislation, and in fact the return of Parliament, unless it is beneficial to the Liberals. Bill C-6, for example, had concluded its committee review in December 2020, yet was not called forward by the government and debated in the House of Commons for its final third reading debate until May 2021. By the time the legislation was sent to the Senate that time, it was too late, as the election took place.

Under the leadership of Erin O’Toole, Canada’s Conservatives were pleased to ensure C-4 was passed expediently.

Tony Baldinelli is Conservative MP for Niagara Falls riding, which includes Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie.

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