On November 29 the Liberals introduced a bill to ban “Conversion Therapy” that they’d twice before failed to pass. But what the Liberals couldn’t do, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole promised he would get done. What was the bill about? Under the pretense of protecting homosexuals from getting forcibly “converted” from their same-sex attraction, Bill C-4 targeted Christian pastors and counselors and others willing to help those who want out of the homosexual lifestyle.
As Jonathon Van Maren wrote:
“there were concerns that the deliberately broad definition proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals would ban pastoral conversations between clergy and their parishioners and leave adults with unwanted same-sex attraction unable to receive the counseling they desired. In fact, in some instances parents could be prevented from opposing sex changes for their own children.”
This was actually the third time the Liberals had introduced such a bill, but the previous two had been derailed by the months-long process that it takes to get a bill approved. The previous attempt, then labeled Bill C-6, was introduced on September 23, 2020, and took nine months, until June 22, 2021, to pass through the committee hearings and the three readings required in the House of Commons. It was then given to the Senate for their own three-stage assessment process, but they didn’t have a chance to pass it before the Prime Minister called an election on August 15. His election call meant that Bill C-6 (along with all the other bills not yet passed) “died on the order paper.”
Bill C-4 might have had to go through this same process, and in the months and even years that it could have taken, who knows but that God might have derailed it yet once more. But on Dec. 1 Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole told the media that his party was going to “accelerate passage” of the government’s bill. Later that same day Conservative MP Rob Moore put forward a motion to skip all the House committees and readings, and send the bill directly and immediately to the Senate. His motion required unanimous approval to pass – if a single MP had voiced a nay, the motion wouldn’t have passed. How could the Conservatives have expected to get that unanimity when there had been 63 MPs willing to vote against Bill C-6 earlier this year? Of that number 62 were their own Conservative MPs. So why would they expect to have no opposition this time around?
Their confidence might have been, in part, due to the timing of their motion. Conservative MP Garnett Genius was the most vocal opponent of the previous Bill C-6, launching the website “Fix the Definition” to put a face to the people this bill would harm. But on December 1, Genuis was out of the country, attending a NATO conference in Latvia.
The Conservative strategy also involved pulling a fast one on their own MPs – the motion was made and passed in approximately one minute. They were able to do it so quickly because no one actually had to vote for the motion: the Speaker of the House only asked to hear from those opposed to it. When no one spoke up, it was passed.
While many of the Conservatives were clearly in on this maneuver – as evidenced by the wild clapping immediately afterward – any MPs unaware of what Rob Moore was about to do could have blinked and they would have missed it, it was over that fast. The CPAC coverage of the vote shows that some of the Conservatives were not clapping, and remained sitting and the most downcast of them might have been Arnold Viersen (blue jacket, red tie, three rows from the back on the right side)
In a statement he posted to Facebook nine days later, Viersen explained that:
“…it was a surprise that caught me and some of my colleagues off guard. I am opposed to C-4 as written and should have said no, but I did not react fast enough. I’m sorry.”
The comments below his post were filled with thanks for his apology. For almost two weeks it had been a mystery as to why a bill that criminalized the presentation of the Gospel would pass without any Christian MPs objecting. Now we had a partial explanation for the MPs’ silence: this had been sprung on them. But even as surprise can be an explanation for what happened in the House, no such explanation was possible for the senators – they has the advance notice of seeing what was pulled in the House, and it made no difference. There, too, it was the Conservatives who put forward the motion to get the bill past all of the usual steps. And once again, not a single representative spoke up.
Curiously, in his Facebook post, Viersen suggested that: “Had we [the Conservatives] won the election we would not be in this situation.” In a message fellow Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall sent to ARPA Canada some days later, and let them share publicly, she borrowed this same phrase: “Had we won the election, we would not be in this situation.”
Let’s consider that for a moment. Who was it, that pulled this on us? Wasn’t it the Conservatives? We can be relieved that Garnett Genuis and Arnold Viersen have some sort of explanation or apology for why they didn’t stand up against this bill, but the Conservative Party overall has no such excuse. Trudeau’s Liberals introduced this bill, but it was O’Toole’s Conservatives who accomplished what the Liberals never did: the Conservatives got it across the finish line.
It bears repeating just how wicked this bill is. As Jojo Ruba noted, while an earlier version of the bill at least “could not prevent consenting adults from having conversations about sexuality with their clergy or their counselor, as long as the counseling was free” this latest version removed even that protection. That’s what the Conservative Party has accomplished under O’Toole: they’ve made the compelling case that they are not the lesser of two evils, but rather the more effective.
So where are politically-minded Christians to turn? Aren’t the Conservatives still our only option? They are, after all, the only major party to tolerate pro-life Christians. That’s true enough, but as the passage of this law highlights, tolerating Christians is very different from siding with them. If Christians are to be involved in the Conservative Party, it cannot be to further the party’s agenda. We cannot let them use us for their ends, as happened here. If Christians are to continue in the Conservative Party then they have to do so with their eyes wide open, involving themselves in the party only to use it for our own, godly ends. If it becomes impossible to do that, then that should be the end of our involvement. Christians should have no loyalty to a party that has no loyalty to God, and, indeed, in this latest act, stands in direct opposition.