December 19, 2021

Canada’s conversion therapy ban commits six secular sins

 

                                 Canada’s Parliament (Centre Block) and Centennial Flame

Canada’s conversion therapy ban commits six secular sins

And if there is a fiery pit for bad bills, Bill C-4 should be thrown into it.

By Hendrik van der Breggen

 

I. Introduction

Canada’s Bill C-4 bans “conversion therapy.” But the bill is bad. How bad is the bill? It’s so bad that it, for lack of a better word, sins. It sins against democracy, freedom, truth, reason, and other goods. (Consider these secular sins that may or may not include sins against God.) Bill C-4 sins so badly that, if there were a fiery pit for bad bills, it should be thrown into it.

The bill was given first reading in the House of Commons on November 29, 2021, passed in the House of Commons on December 1, passed in the Senate on December 7, and received Royal Assent on December 8. Bill C-4 will become law of the land on January 7, 2022.

One might be tempted to think that the whirlwind speed in which Bill C-4 has become law is a testament to its merit. But one would be mistaken. As I will argue, Bill C-4 commits multiple sins.

I will make my case in three steps. First, I will set out a couple preliminary clarifications. Second, I will set out C-4’s definition of conversion therapy and its preamble. Third, I will set out six criticisms. (Probably more criticisms could be made, but I’ll leave those projects for others. Perhaps the section FOR ADDITIONAL THOUGHT will be helpful.)

I will argue that Bill C-4 commits six sins (secular sins). Bill C-4 

  1. violates democratic due process;
  2. infringes on the freedom of consenting adults;
  3. discriminates against gays and lesbians;
  4. infringes on freedom of religion and conscience (and not just religious conscience);
  5. negatively impacts families and children; and
  6. tells a falsehood about sex being assigned at birth.

 

II. Preliminary clarifications

1. Yes, please ban discredited coercive “therapies” that harm people!

Yes of course discredited, involuntary, coercive “therapies” that harm people—e.g., electroshock therapy, torture, etc.—should be illegal. Amen to that! If that were only what Bill C-4 banned, then I wouldn’t be writing this article. But the fact is that Bill C-4 bans much more and has several other serious problems. More on this below.

2. Contrary to popular opinion, reasonable criticism isn’t phobic

Because Bill C-4 has to do with homosexuality and transgender issues, some readers will respond in knee-jerk fashion to my criticisms by immediately thinking they are homophobic or transphobic. Let me put that rush-to-mistaken-judgment to rest at the get-go by clarifying the notion of phobia.

A phobia is an irrational anxiety or fear or hatred concerning X. (Note: I’m following the Mayo Clinic here.1) So far, so good. But—and this often gets missed in popular discourse—one is not phobic if one has reasonable evidence-based concerns or questions about X. For example, let’s say X is a large spider. If parents are concerned about a large spider crawling near their little child, it doesn't mean they are arachnophobic (arachnophobia is an extreme or irrational fear of spiders).  Such parents could have reasonable concerns, surely. Perhaps the spider’s bite will have negative health effects on the child. Significantly, many intelligent people of good will have expressed reasonable, evidence-based concerns and questions about matters relating to LGBTQ+ and have done so without irrational anxiety or fear or hatred.2 Thus, setting out reasonable criticisms about a ban on conversion therapy is not homophobic or transphobic.3

 

III. Bill C-4’s definition of conversion therapy and preamble

Bill C-4 defines conversion therapy as follows: 

         [C]onversion therapy means a practice, treatment or service designed to 

(a) change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual;

(b) change a person’s gender identity to cisgender;

(c) change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth;

(d) repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour;

(e) repress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity; or

(f) repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person at birth.

For greater certainty, this definition does not include a practice, treatment or service that relates to the exploration or development of an integrated personal identity—such as a practice, treatment or service that relates to a person’s gender transition—and that is not based on an assumption that a particular sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is to be preferred over another.4

Bill C-4 bans such therapy and imposes some serious penalties (e.g., 5 years in prison) if anyone engages in it.

The preamble of Bill C-4 states the following: 

  • conversion therapy causes harm to the persons who are subjected to it;
  • conversion therapy causes harm to society because, among other things, it is based on and propagates myths and stereotypes about sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, including the myth that heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions;
  • in light of those harms, it is important to discourage and denounce the provision of conversion therapy in order to protect the human dignity and equality of all Canadians.5

 

IV. Criticisms

As I stated in the preliminary clarifications, discredited coercive “therapies” that harm people (e.g., electroshock therapy, torture, etc.) should be illegal. Again: Amen to that. But some serious problems remain with Bill C-4. I see at least six.

As I also stated in the preliminary clarifications, it is not phobic to have reasonable concerns.

 

Sin #1: Democracy sidestepped

Canada’s Bill C-4 is a sin against democracy. Yes, Bill C-4 was recently passed in Canada’s House of Commons and in Canada’s Senate, which would make it seem democratic. But the bill wasn’t given due process, which is what Canada’s loyal opposition is supposed to ensure is given. The bill didn’t receive second reading, second reading debate, committee study, etc. None of this occurred in either the House or the Senate. In other words, the bill received no scrutiny. Surely this is a violation of democratic due process—the sin of passing a bill without sober-minded second thought, deliberation, discussion, and public input from stake holders. Canada’s loyal opposition failed to do its job, in other words.

Perhaps a lesson in Canadian politics is appropriate here. In a speech to the Empire Club of Canada in 1949, former Prime Minister of Canada John Diefenbaker provides important insight into the proper role of parliament’s opposition:

If Parliament is to be preserved as a living institution, His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition must fearlessly perform its functions. When it properly discharges them the preservation of our freedom is assured. The reading of history proves that freedom always dies when criticism ends. … [The Opposition] finds fault; it suggests amendments; it asks questions and elicits information; it arouses, educates and moulds public opinion by voice and vote. It must scrutinize every action by the government and in doing so prevents the shortcuts through democratic procedure that governments like to make.6

Again, the role of the loyal opposition is this: “It must scrutinize every action by the government and in doing so prevents the shortcuts through democratic procedure that governments like to make.” Whatever one’s political stripes, the Canadian government failed us on Bill C-4. Our government sinned against democracy. Bill C-4 violates democratic due process. 7

 

Sin #2: Infringement on freedom of consenting adults

Anna Nienhuis, a policy and research coordinator at ARPA Canada (Association for Reformed Political Action, Canada) astutely observes the following:

Bill C-4 bans any practice that has a goal of changing someone’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual or gender identity from transgender to cisgender. It remains legal to counsel a cisgender or heterosexual individual to become transgender or homosexual, but it is illegal to try to persuade in the opposite direction.8

Nienhuis’s observation brings the following problem to light: Bill C-4 is a one-way street that infringes on the freedom of consenting adults to choose—with the help of legitimate non-coercive therapies—to go the other way.

Think of it this way: Bill C-4 criminalizes counsellors who help adults who want to change their gender identity, want to reduce non-heterosexual attractions or behaviour, or want their gender expression to conform to their biological sex—and choose to ask for help in doing so. Bill C-4 prohibits a counsellor from helping those who want and ask for help. Even with the consent of the adult person being counselled and even if the goal of the counselling was established by and communicated to the counsellor by the person seeking counsel, the counsel (talk therapy) would be outlawed.

Clearly, such outlawing infringes on the freedom of all adults, including LGBTQ+ people (some of whom I know and many of whom I’ve read about), who wish to get help and consent to getting help (and have gotten help) via counselling regarding their desired change of gender identity or gender expression to cisgender, or regarding a reduction of their unwanted non-heterosexual attractions and sexual behaviours. Surely such therapy should be allowed for consenting adults, but bill C-4 would squelch that.

Bill C-4 only allows “consent” in a way that embraces pro-LGBTQ+ ideology. But this restricts the freedom of people who might not agree with pro-LGBTQ+ ideology, including but not limited to people who identity as LGBTQ+, people who wish to choose otherwise.

This is an infringement on—a sin against—the freedom of consenting adults.

 

Sin #3: Discrimination

Closely related to its infringement on adults’ freedom to choose counselling, Bill C-4 also discriminates unjustly. It discriminates against persons who have non-heterosexual attractions or who engage in non-heterosexual behaviour yet wish—and choose—to get help to reduce such attractions or behaviours. Think of, say, a gay man or lesbian woman who has a gay porn addiction and who would like help to overcome the addiction (i.e., they wish to change their behaviour so they do not watch porn).  Bill C-4 would disallow such help. Why? Because this would “repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour” (Bill C-4, section d), so helping this gay man or lesbian woman is illegal, according to Bill C-4. But, and significantly, if a heterosexual man or woman with a heterosexual porn addiction wished to receive help, he or she could receive help. This means Bill C-4 favours heterosexuals but unjustly discriminates against gays and lesbians.

Unjust discrimination is a sin, so Bill C-4 sins, again.

 

Sin #4: Infringement on freedom of religion and conscience (and not just religious consciences)

Several major religions in Canada deem that sexual acts outside of marriage between one man and one woman are wrong morally—truly wrong. And so, according to these religions, heterosexual relations within marriage are to be preferred over all other sexual relations. And so, too, religious leaders teach a sexual ethic that reflects their religion’s doctrine and they counsel accordingly. And many Canadian adherents of the respective religions would agree. But Bill C-4’s preamble dismisses such views as “myth,” and Bill C-4’s definition of “conversion therapy” renders such teaching and counsel as criminal. Significantly, this infringes on the freedom of religion and religiously formed conscience of Canadian imams, rabbis, priests, pastors, and parishioners.

Bill C-4 also infringes on the moral consciences of non-religious Canadians who agree with some of the core sexual ethics of major religions and who may have good secular reasons for thinking this is a reasonable—not mythical—position to hold. (This is called a natural law tradition in ethics, i.e., ethics are a part of the fabric of the universe, discernible by all people, whether believers in God or not.9)

Also, and this seems totally unnoticed by the proponents of Bill C-4: the bill’s use of the concept of “gender identity” infringes on the rational consciences of many people, whether religious or not, who believe that gender identity is itself a myth. Indeed, it would seem that gender identity is more of a myth than its ideological adherents would probably care to admit, which is a problem for Bill C-4. Why is it a candidate for myth? Because, very apparently, gender identity has come to mean something wholly subjective and not tied to anything objective—major characteristics of myth, surely. Kara Dansky, an attorney and feminist critic of gender identity, describes gender identity as a “nebulous, nonsensical concept.” She adds: “words like ‘gender identity’ don’t have any meaning. They really don’t. They’re defined variously, inconsistently, and vaguely in ways that don’t make any sense.”10 Philosopher Ryan T. Anderson makes a similar observation: “the very concepts of ‘gender’ and ‘gender identity’ are so murky. While biological sex has a stable and objective meaning, ‘gender’ is a more amorphous concept and ‘gender identity’ is explicitly subjective.”11 Dansky and Anderson’s observations seem very much to be supported by the ever growing number of gender identities that has skyrocketed in recent years—think of Facebook’s 70+ gender identities. My point here is that the rational consciences of those Canadians who agree with Dansky and Anderson’s view (and disagree with Facebook) are infringed upon by the language of Bill C-4. Bill C-4 employs the phrase “gender identity” at least five times and does so without definition, clarification, or defence. The notion of gender identity, then, especially when it has vague and/or apparently countless meanings based on feelings untethered to biological facts seems very much to be more of an ideological/ mythical notion than a truth. If one is a thinking person whose goal is to be reasonable and to ground beliefs in objective truth, then the lack of clear definition of “gender identity”—a clear definition of a physical something that is objectively true and publicly verifiable—is yet another problem with Bill C-4.12

Bill C-4, then, infringes on freedom of religion and conscience. And not just religious conscience, but the rational conscience of thinking persons whether they adhere to a religion or not.

 

Sin #5: Negative impacts on families and children

Mattea Merta, president of the Canadian organization Vote Family, helpfully summarizes Bill C-4’s impacts on family and children. According to Merta, Bill C-4 does the following:

  • Erodes trust between parents and children as parents may be snitched on for having conversations in their own homes with their own children about their child’s struggle with sexuality. If parents do not promote their children towards identifying with a sexual identity the child feels they are at the time, even if it goes against their biological make up, that conversation could be grounds for jail time.
  • Parents refusing to assist their child's request to take puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones in preparation for mutilating sex change surgery could face up to five years in jail.
  • Parents who bring their child to a pastor or therapist for counselling could face up to five years in jail.13

Debra Soh, PhD, a neuroscientist who specializes in gender, sex and sexual orientation, helpfully explains the negative impact of Bill C-4 on therapies available to children. Soh was asked this question: “Could an anti-conversion therapy bill get in the way of discussing gender identity and transitioning with youth?” Dr. Soh’s answer should be a concern to all responsible parents and their families:

Absolutely. How many clinicians are willing to risk up to 5 years in prison for doing their job properly? I don’t do clinical work anymore, but I have colleagues in the field who are terrified. They have chosen to stop working with this population as a result, which means only activist therapists will be working with patients with gender dysphoria. We are going to see an even greater influx of detransitioners—people who regret their transition and return to living as their birth sex—in a few years.14

The wake of transitions and detransitions will include no longer wanted double-mastectomies, negative effects of puberty blockers, irreversible genital mutilation, psychological problems, and more.15

Bill C-4, then, is a sin against families and children.

 

Sin #6: Falsehood about sex being assigned at birth

The phrase “sex assigned to a person at birth” is used three times in Bill C-4, but the words serve to communicate an ideologically loaded concept, not a truth. Yes, the words are often used in our contemporary society, but the words are open to serious misunderstanding—especially by radical postmodern ideologues inclined to think language constructs reality rather than accurately reflects and communicates truth, and especially by transgender ideologues who elevate one’s subjective feelings concerning identity over objective reality. “Assigned” suggests, mistakenly, that a nurse or doctor is the arbitrary source of a newborn’s anatomical details (as, say, a math teacher assigns a value to a variable). The truth is that biological facts concerning sex at birth are discerned (as real), not “assigned” (i.e., not invented or socially constructed).

The truth is, as philosopher Ryan T. Anderson points out, “[S]ex is understood scientifically on the basis of an organism’s organization for reproduction, and that sex differences manifest themselves all the way down to the molecular level.”16 Via empirical observation, the sex of a pre-natal or post-natal child is discovered as fact rather than “assigned” at whim—and this includes intersex.

About intersex, neuroscientist Debra Soh helpfully observes:

The term “sex assigned at birth” stems from a desire to acknowledge the intersex community and that sometimes a person’s sex is inaccurate because the doctor got it wrong. While it is a respectable goal, it needlessly gives the impression that sex is not an objective attribute and that a doctor’s estimation is completely arbitrary, when in actuality, their guess will be correct, statistically speaking, ninety-nine times out of a hundred.17

Bill C-4 makes it seem that “sex assigned to a person at birth” is what happens one hundred times out of a hundred. But sex is not assigned, it is discerned. In other words, Bill C-4 commits the sin of communicating a falsehood.

 

V. Conclusion

To recap, Bill C-4 commits the following secular sins: 

  1. Violates democratic due process.
  2. Infringes on the freedom of consenting adults.
  3. Discriminates against gays and lesbians.
  4. Infringes on freedom of religion and conscience (and not just religious consciences).
  5. Negatively impacts families and children.
  6. Tells a falsehood about sex being assigned at birth.

Canada’s Bill C-4 is a bad bill. If there were a fiery pit for bad bills, Bill C-4 should be thrown into it.

 

Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosophy professor who lives in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada.

 

NOTES

1. For more about phobia, see Mayo Clinic's online entry on “Specific phobias”.

2. For starters, look here: Hendrik van der Breggen, “Pride parade pros and cons,” APOLOGIA, June 28, 2018.

3. Indeed, it could be argued that many people are phobic about being labelled phobic. See Hendrik van der Breggen, “Phobic anti-phobia?” APOLOGIA, May 11, 2017.

4. Bill C-4, Royal Assent, Parliament of Canada, December 8, 2021.

5. Bill C-4, Royal Assent, Parliament of Canada, December 8, 2021.

6. For full speech, see John Diefenbaker, “The Role of the Opposition in Parliament,” The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), October 27, 1949.

7. That the loyal opposition failed to do its job is clear. But this question remains: Why? From what I can gather, Bill C-6, a previous problematic (albeit-only-somewhat-less-problematic) version of Bill C-4, was opposed by 63 members of parliament (62 of which were opposition members) prior to last fall’s election. But Bill C-6 “died” last fall because Prime Minister Trudeau called an election. But then, sometime after the election, Bill C-6 was revised and introduced as a new bill: Bill C-4 (much like Bill C-6 but with additional controversial content, such as precluding consenting adults receiving counselling they choose). Apparently, some machinations amongst the bill’s proponents within the opposition party resulted in a Unanimous Consent Motion by the opposition party which was presented without warning—and without having given the new bill due process. This occurred when Bill C-6’s (and by extension Bill C-4’s) most vocal critic, opposition Member of Parliament Garnett Genuis (see his website  Fix the Definition), was out of the country and other critics such as my MP Ted Falk (see his explanation in addendum below) were taken by surprise (“blindsided,” according to Falk). The result: Canada’s loyal opposition didn’t have time to give Bill C-4 careful scrutiny. It seems to me, in other words, that Bill C-4’s passing in parliament was an exercise in stealth politicking. Stealth politicking or no stealth politicking, the fact remains that the opposition didn’t do its job by forgoing second reading, second reading debate, committee study, etc. And thus Bill C-4 remains a sin against democracy.

8. Anna Nienhuis, “A New Kind of Conversion Therapy,” C-4 Blew Up (and other letters to the editor), ARPA Canada blog, December 14, 2021.

9. For an example of a secular defence of heterosexual marriage which appeals not to myth but public reason and fact, see Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George, What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense (New York & London: Encounter Books, 2012).

10. Quotes are from Kara Dansky in the December 8, 2021, episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight: “Feminist rips 'gender identity' as meaningless.” Kara Dansky is author of the book The Abolition of Sex: How the “transgender” agenda harms women and girls (New York & Nashville: Bombardier Books/ Post Hill Press, 2021).

11. Ryan T. Anderson, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment (New York & London: Encounter Books, 2018), 104.

12. We used to think that reason carefully used with evidence should put a check on feeling (which is sometimes out of touch with reality). Remember anorexia nervosa, the disorder in which a person feels overweight when in fact isn’t, so diets to a dangerous extreme? Here reason shows feelings, though sincerely held, can be untrue. But now, for many, feelings are trump. Consider Bruce (“Caitlyn”) Jenner. He is a man who feels he is a woman and so has had plastic surgery to “feminize” his face and throat, has taken hormones to grow breasts, and has had surgery to remove his testicles plus use his penis to construct a so-called “vagina.” But the “vagina” isn’t a vagina (it’s fake, a simulacrum).  Biologically, Jenner is not female. In view of the dangers associated with sex-change (in transgender-friendly Sweden the rate of serious mental health problems for those who have sex-change surgery is significantly greater than normal, also there are significant medical health risks for children who transition), might this be somewhat like offering liposuction to someone with anorexia? Surely more research is needed. 

    Moreover, if my feelings about myself are sufficient justification for my identity, why stop at transgender (e.g., a man identifying as a woman)? Why not also trans-culture/ethnicity/ nationality (an American man identifying as a Filipino woman)? Why not trans-age (an adult identifying as a child)? Why not trans-species (a human being identifying as a dog or cat or dragon)? Upshot: Feeling as a sufficient guide to reality reduces to the absurd.

    Clearly, the radical subjectivity of the notion of “gender identity” is problematic—which is a problem for Bill C-4.

13. Mattea Merta, The Senate has Failed Canada's Families, Vote Family, no date.

14.  Cosmin Dzsurdzsa, “Banning conversion therapy ‘sends a chilling message,’ warns neuroscientist,” True North, December 4, 2021.

15. For further concerns about the risks of transitioning for children, see Ryan T. Anderson’s chapters “Detransitioners Tell Their Stories” and “Childhood Dysphoria and Desistance,” in When Harry Became Sally, 49-76 and 117-144, respectively. See too Abigail Shrier, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2020).

16. Anderson, When Harry Became Sally, 100. For additional thought, see Ryan T. Anderson’s lecture about the transgender moment which we find ourselves in, Young America’s Foundation, August 5, 2021 (46 minute video; see 19:00-21:17).

17. Debra Soh, The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society (New York: Threshold Editions/ Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2020), 30.

 

FOR ADDITIONAL THOUGHT

Articles

Videos

  • Don Plett, “Senator Don Plett at 2nd Reading of Bill C-6,” June 28, 2021. Note: Bill C-6 was a precursor to Bill C-4. Bill C-6 “died” when Prime Minister Trudeau called an election last fall. Interestingly, Bill C-6 allowed conversion therapy if it were free or between consenting adults, whereas Bill C-4 doesn’t.
  • Jojo Ruba, “Who Determines Our Identity?”, Southside Victory Church, December 5, 2021.
  • Debra Soh, “Canada just banned clinical therapy for children thinking of transitioning,” The Candice Malcom Show, True North, December 15, 2021. Show notes: "Bill-4, the ban on so-called Conversation Therapy, passed with the unanimous support of all parties in the House of Commons. But it didn’t just ban therapy for children and adults confused about their sexual orientation—the bill also applies to children and adults suffering gender dysphoria and considering going through the irreversible medical procedure of transitioning genders. On today’s episode of the Candice Malcolm Show, Candice Malcolm is joined by sex neuroscientist Dr. Debra Soh. Soh says that Canada is going in the opposite direction of other Western liberal democracies who have mandated psychotherapy before transitioning and banned dangerous puberty-blocking drugs to those under 18. She says that clinical therapy is essential for children suffering from gender dysphoria, and banning it is cruel and anti-science."
  • Adam Soos, “Legal Breakdown of Bill C-4 with AndrĂ© Schutten of ARPA,” Rebel News, January 7, 2022.

     

Podcasts

ADDENDUM

Here is Ted Falk’s explanation of the passing of Bill C-4 (Falk is a Conservative Member of Parliament who serves the Manitoba constituency of Provencher, which includes the city in which I live):

I would like to say that I am deeply disappointed and troubled by the decision to fast-track Bill C-4—and having done so in a way that, frankly, blindsided many Conservative MP’s, including myself. There had been discussions regarding fast tracking this bill among Conservative members—during which I regularly expressed my concerns about doing so—but at no point was it my understanding that a consensus or final decision had been reached. Furthermore, the timing of the Unanimous Consent Motion—presenting it as everyone was rising to go after Question Period, completely caught me off guard. There were about four seconds in which any one of us could have voiced an objection and, in all honesty, before I could process what was happening, the motion had been passed.

As you can imagine, I have been reflecting hard on this outcome. As you may know, I spoke with conviction about my concerns for C-6 (C-4’s predecessor) when it was before the House. Those convictions never changed. From day one, as an elected official, my desire has always been to be a voice for the voiceless and vulnerable, to defend the religious freedom of Canadians, and protect the autonomy of the family. Knowing my history as an MP on these issues, you can well understand my alarm with what happened. I am sorry that I did not act quicker and voice my opposition to stop this from happening without debate or study.

Having said that, the Liberal government was determined to pass this legislation—without amendments—and had the support to do so, meaning its final passage in the House was inevitable. The Liberals, Bloc, NDP and, sadly, many Conservative members were vocal in their support of this bill.

Some hope remained that the Senate would take the time to debate, study and address our outstanding concerns. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

Two hundred and twenty written submissions responding to C-6/C-4 were not considered by both the House and the Senate.  As leader and Lawyer Don Hutchinson said in a blog, “three quarters of the submissions made to the committee were literally ignored, not even looked at.”

What was repeatedly requested by many of those making submissions, was the government’s guarantee—included in the legislation itself—that conversations with a religious leader, counsellor or parent continued to be protected and possible. Sadly, these requests were not considered.

Nobody should be forced into any kind of coercive or abusive “treatment’, and I understand why some of my colleagues chose to support this legislation, but this bill is far broader in scope than simply banning coercive and abusive treatment.  This is a bad bill. Had the Conservatives won the election, the bill would have at least had clear definitions that would have protected vulnerable people to have safe conversations with a pastor, councillor or parent.

Unfortunately that didn’t happen—but it doesn’t mean it never will. While C-4 will be law in Canada, the good news is laws can be improved. Please know that I have every intention to continue to work with parents, pastors, and legal experts, as we stand up for the rights and protections of all Canadians, including those who identify as LGBTQ+. There is a way to protect everyone’s rights. Just because the House got it wrong this time, doesn’t mean it cannot be fixed in the future.

—Ted Falk, MP, Facebook (public post), December 17, 2021.

Hendrik’s note: In view of the stealth politicking of Bill C-4 proponents who are Conservatives, I’m not so sure that if the Conservatives had won last fall’s election, the bill would have been better. But I appreciate MP Ted Falk, nonetheless. And I agree with Falk’s claim that C-4 is “a bad bill.” How bad is it? See my above article.


November 29, 2021

Reframing the COVID scapegoat: Trudeau is the culprit

                       Photo of PM Justin Trudeau being photographed signing photographs of himself (Globe and Mail)

Reframing the COVID scapegoat: Trudeau is the culprit

By Hendrik van der Breggen

November 29, 2021


During the COVID pandemic, Canadians have often been told this: Our public health care system is being overwhelmed.

I don’t dispute this reality, but I ask why.

Why has the capacity of Canada’s health care system not been built up enough so as not to be overwhelmed?

I ask because it strikes me as odd that in our war against COVID—an ongoing war of nearly two years—we have not re-directed resources to the war effort as in wars past.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would have us blame unvaccinated Canadians. But I think his narrative lacks insight.

I submit that the ongoing status of our healthcare system being overwhelmed is due primarily to our federal government’s mishandling of our tax dollars. It’s Trudeau who is the culprit.

Here is my reason: PM Trudeau has been engaging in wasteful, frivolous tax spending instead of directing those misspent tax dollars to the war effort.

Wasteful, frivolous tax spending?

Yup.

Lots of examples could be listed, but space permits two.

Example 1. A few weeks ago, our PM and his entourage (276 people) travelled in jets and limousines to attend a climate conference across the Atlantic—a conference that could have been done by Zoom.

Besides the hypocrisy of polluting the world via fuel-guzzling jets and limousines, this trip wasted millions of taxpayers’ dollars. Millions that could have—should have—gone to hospitals.

Reminder: We are in the midst of a pandemic, and our healthcare system is being overwhelmed.

Example 2. Last September the PM called an election during the fourth wave of our COVID pandemic. The election was unnecessary, but the PM saw an opportunity for more power. The election, which changed nothing, cost taxpayers 610 million dollars. $610,000,000. That’s a lot of money.

Reminder: We are in the midst of a pandemic, and our healthcare system is being overwhelmed.

Let’s pause and ponder the $610M election cost. In Canada there are 150 Liberal Members of Parliament. This means each Liberal MP cost us $4,000,000.

Surely, though, a $4M payment to each of 150 hospitals across Canada would have been more appropriate. Or imagine 75 hospitals each getting an $8M payment. Or 50 hospitals each getting a $12M payment.

That’s just two examples. The upshot is that in our war against COVID the federal government has missed huge opportunities to increase the number of hospital beds, ICUs, nurses, and doctors across Canada.

For many Canadians, this has been deadly. Not only did COVID take its toll, but so did non-COVID illnesses (due to missed cancer screenings, surgeries, etc.).

The moral fact is that wasteful, frivolous federal tax spending should long ago have been cut and those tax dollars—millions upon millions of life-saving dollars—should have been re-directed to our (the taxpayers’) hospitals. Sure, make vaccines available, but also increase the capacity and threshold of readiness of the health care system. We are in a pandemic are we not?

There’s more.

What about other costs of not increasing healthcare capacity, costs triggered by political policies to cope with the healthcare system’s ongoing status of being overwhelmed?

That is to ask: What about the cost of lockdowns? What about the cost of destroyed businesses, destroyed livelihoods, and destroyed people (by suicides and drug overdoses)? What about lost education?

And what about the PM’s slithery-slippery slide into political authoritarianism by pushing vaccine mandates that smack of coercion and crass government overreach?

Canadians are facing two pandemics: a COVID pandemic and a pandemic of prime ministerial power-mongering and ineptitude.

Whom should we blame for our healthcare system’s inappropriately low threshold-of-readiness resulting in its near-constant state of being overwhelmed? Whom should we blame for the life-destroying consequences?

The appropriate scapegoat is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

 

Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosophy professor who lives in Steinbach, Manitoba. Dr. van der Breggen is double vaccinated, and he is inclined to think vaccinations are wise (depending on, in discussions with one’s doctor, whether one has a high-risk profile for COVID or not), and he is skeptical about the wisdom and efficacy of COVID vaccine mandates.


Addendum: Objection and reply (December 15, 2021)

Re: “Reframing the COVID Scapegoat: Trudeau is the Culprit”

Some readers of my article have set out variations of the following as a criticism: In Canada health care is a jurisdiction of the provinces, and in Manitoba the Conservatives have a history of making cuts to and weakening the health care system.

There is truth to the criticism, but I think the criticism misses the point of my article. Since I am the author, permit me to explain what I think the article’s point is. Here goes.

Trudeau has publicly blamed the unvaxxed for Canada’s healthcare system’s state of overwhelm (without, I would add, acknowledging the essential services provided by our many unvaxxed heroes over the last two years). By pushing his blame-the-unvaxxed narrative, however, Trudeau sidesteps the uncomfortable truth (uncomfortable for him) that because HE is Canada’s leader in the present war against Covid, HE is ultimately—and PRIMARILY—responsible for Canada’s response to the Covid crisis. Again: HE is Canada’s PRIME MINISTER, so HE should be LEADING us in the war against Covid.

How? By not letting provinces let their critical health services be overwhelmed (especially if they were or are not in a state of readiness) and by not misspending millions (probably billions) of tax dollars that should have gone to health services (especially in those provinces that needed it most).

My bit about not letting provinces let their critical health services be overwhelmed fits well with an annual report recently released by Dr. Theresa Tam, who is Canada’s chief public health officer. An article in CBC (December 13, 2021) states the following: “In that document [the annual report], Tam says the public health system is ‘stretched dangerously thin’ after two years of the COVID-19 crisis and a parallel opioid epidemic. To address some of the system's shortcomings, Tam said governments have to earmark more money for public health to bring an end to what she calls the ‘boom and bust’ cycle—a funding pattern where money flows during a time of crisis only to be clawed back when the situation stabilizes. Tam said money should be dedicated to recruiting and retaining health care workers, who have faced challenging working conditions during this pandemic.”

I suspect things may not have been differently handled under different prime ministers. And I would criticize them, too, if they did what Trudeau did. It remains, though, that: (a) Trudeau is our present prime minister; (b) he is scapegoating the unvaccinated; (c) he has wasted an awful lot of taxpayer money that could have—should have—gone to support hospitals, give raises and time off to overworked doctors and nurses, hire and train more staff, plus increase ICU beds, etc.; (d) his irresponsibility has hurt people who suffered from Covid directly or indirectly (by postponed treatments and surgeries); and (e) his irresponsibility has hurt people who suffered from the negative and even deadly effects of lockdowns—lockdowns triggered by the lack of readiness of Canada’s public health care system which Trudeau should have made ready.

Like pretty much everyone else in Canada, I would like to see the Covid situation change for the better. I believe it begins with Canadians demanding our Prime Minister be a better leader and with Canadians not permitting him to pass blame for his poor leadership to Canadians who have reasonable concerns about vaccines (and vaccine mandates).