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Bill S-260, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Conversion Therapy)

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Serge Joyal moved second reading of Bill S-260, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Conversion Therapy).

He said: Honourable senators, Bill S-260 is entitled An Act to amend the Criminal Code, regarding conversion therapy. The summary gives an overview of the objective of the bill, which is to make it an offence to advertise conversion therapy services for consideration and to obtain a financial or other material benefit for the provision of conversion therapy to a person under the age of 18.

Honourable senators can acquaint themselves with the bill’s very well-defined objective by reading the preamble. In short, this bill seeks to prohibit the practice known as conversion therapy. What is conversion therapy? The bill defines it as any practice, treatment or service designed to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or to eliminate or reduce sexual attraction or sexual behaviour between persons of the same sex. In other words, it means any practice that seeks to fundamentally change the identity of a person and turn that person into something he or she is not. Conversion therapy violates people’s right to personal autonomy, or the right to be who they are as a person or individual. It also violates the right to physical and psychological integrity. The Criminal Code already prohibits attacks on physical integrity. For example, genital mutilation is prohibited under the Criminal Code. Conversion therapy can be an attack on both physical and psychological integrity, particularly the latter. It seeks to convince individuals that their state of being is not acceptable according to the standards of society, their community or their environment. It seeks to change people’s fundamental nature. That is why conversion therapy contravenes fundamental human rights and constitutes an attack on people’s right to dignity and equality.

[English]

If you read the bill, honourable senators, you will clearly realize that it is important to protect the human dignity and equality of all Canadians by discouraging these practices and treatments in light of their negative consequences, particularly for young people. This is the preamble of the bill.

You may ask where that comes from. Why are we here tonight in the chamber, trying to understand the objective of this bill and why should we amend the Criminal Code in relation to prohibiting conversion therapy?

Honourable senators, I want to remind you what the Prime Minister stated on November 28, 2017, when he presented the apology of the Government of Canada to the LGBTQ2 community in relation to the discrimination that former public servants, former members of the Canadian Armed Forces and former members of the diplomatic service of Canada experienced in the 1950s and the 1960s. The sentiment speaks directly to this fundamental issue. I will read the Prime Minister’s statement:

[Translation]

While we may view modern Canada as a forward-thinking, progressive nation, we can’t forget our past:

— and I really want to emphasize this —

The state orchestrated a culture of stigma and fear around LGBTQ2 communities. And in doing so, destroyed people’s lives.

[English]

I want to underline that.

(2010)

The state orchestrated a culture of stigma and fear around LGBTQ2 communities. And in doing so, destroyed people’s lives.

That’s what we’re dealing with here, destroying people’s lives. We’re not just preventing someone from crossing a street, stealing or committing any other common offence that we find in the Criminal Code. We are dealing here with initiatives that could destroy people’s lives.

In as much as the Criminal Code is committed to protecting the physical integrity of a person if a person is the object of physical violence, as much as we should be mindful of protecting any initiative against psychological violence, both are violence against the same person.

The Prime Minister mentioned later in his speech that Canada needs to work more. I will read his propos in French:

[Translation]

And there is still work to do. . . . The Government needs to continue working with our partners to improve policies and programs.

[English]

In other words, when the Prime Minister made his excuse, he also made a commitment, which was to address the other situation in which the members of the LGBTQ2 communities feel that it is dangerous for them to live in our community, our society, our country, by being just what they are.

In the other place, last February, the Member for Saskatoon West, Sheri Benson, introduced a petition of 18,000 names, asking the government to intervene, to prohibit conversion therapy. Here is the answer that was tabled in the other place by the Minister of Justice, on March 18:

Conversion therapies are immoral, painful and do not reflect the values of our government or those of Canadians. Various medical and psychological associations have identified the practice as unethical.

You would have expected that the government would have taken a legislative initiative following the commitment of the Prime Minister to do more in November 2017.

The fact is that this issue of conversion therapy — and I will explain it later — is condemned worldwide, in countries with similar patterns as Canadian society.

Here is how the Minister of Justice concluded his answer to the petition:

We continue to work with provincial and territorial governments to address these practices through the regulation of the health profession.

In other words, the government shifted the focus to the provinces, making it only an issue of health.

That seems to me to be an easy way out. If you look into the capacity of this Parliament to legislate in relation to the Criminal Code and health, the competence of the federal Parliament is well established.

I want to refer you to a decision of the Supreme Court in 2017 in the case of Canada (Attorney General) v. PHS Community Services Society in 2011. It’s a recent decision. Here’s what the Supreme Court states in relation to the power of the federal government in relation to the Criminal Code on the matter of health:

. . . Parliament has power to legislate with respect to federal matters, notably criminal law, that touch on health. For instance, it has historic jurisdiction to prohibit medical treatments that are dangerous, or that it perceives as “socially undesirable” behaviour: . . .

It’s quite clear that we have the jurisdiction through the criminal law to prohibit some treatments that are dangerous or that are perceived as socially undesirable behaviour.

I reflected, honourable senators, on how we should approach this issue in the Criminal Code, because if we are to legislate in the Criminal Code, it’s a very serious matter, and it has very serious consequences, because as you know, there are fines or even prison terms if the offence is recognized by a competent court to have been committed.

Honourable senators, I want to refer you to the bill that Parliament adopted in 2014 in relation to prostitution. I don’t know if you remember, honourable senators, Bill C-36 that was debated and studied at length at the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

How did the government of the day address the issue of prostitution? The government didn’t ban prostitution, but the government banned and made infractions in relation to offering or obtaining sexual services for consideration; in other words, to receive money.

The other thing the government banned was publicity. In other words, you cannot advertise that you are going to offer your prostitution services, no more than you can draw a material benefit of exercising prostitution.

I look to my colleagues on the other side. You will remember very well we debated and voted on that measure. It’s now part of the law of Canada. In other words, we amended the Criminal Code to ban advertising and to ban the opportunity to receive material benefit from prostitution.

I reviewed the Charter rights involved in this legislation and I came to the conclusion that this legislation was in sync with the objective of the freedom of expression of Charter rights. That’s why it was limited only to those two segments of prostitution activities, offering and receiving the money. If you engage in prostitution without publicity and without money, that’s not prostitution in the sense of a criminal act.

I thought this was the approach to be taken in the bill that I would be drafting. That’s why in Bill S-260 it reads that “Everyone who knowingly advertises an offer to provide conversion therapy . . .”, and that’s why in the following article I make sure that the same elements of material benefit are recognized:

Everyone who receives a financial or other material benefit, knowing that it is obtained by or derived directly . . . from the provision of conversion therapy . . .

In other words, this bill aligns with the precedent of Bill C-36, adopted in 2014, because I thought we were protecting the Charter rights that accompanied Bill C-36, the commitment that was defined according to the Supreme Court of Canada in the Bedford case.

Some of you might remember the name of Bedford. She was the lady who challenged the constitutionality of the Criminal Code.

That being said, honourable senators, you might want to ask me how the approach of conversion therapy has been considered in other jurisdictions. I asked myself, where is it? How have other countries similar in stature, experience and commitment to Canada sought to protect individual rights, to protect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to protect Charter rights, to protect the human rights code of Canada — well, honourable senators, I want to give you a list of international organizations that have banned conversion therapy, and you will be surprised. I was surprised myself when I dug into the research to come to the list of international organizations that have taken a strong stand against conversion therapy and not yesterday or the year before.

(2020)

[Translation]

The World Health Organization issued a statement in 2012 saying this type of therapy poses a “severe threat to the health and human rights of the affected persons.”

[English]

That was the World Health Organization seven years ago. Then there is the United Nations Committee Against Torture, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and the Human Rights Committee have already condemned the practice of conversion therapy in several countries.

I look at the European Union, because we draw our common law from the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has passed legislation condemning conversion therapy. Ireland has legislation presently in their House of Commons to prohibit conversion therapy.

Malta adopted the legislation some years ago against conversion therapy. The European Union last year in a report from last March 2018 — more than a year ago — came out quite strongly against conversion therapy in its annual report on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU. Even in Spain, there are some regions that have banned conversion therapy.

What about the United States? Because it’s always, of course, something that we refer to, south of the border. In the United States, honourable senators, 14 states have prohibited conversion therapy. According to the Williams Institute in California, 698 members of the LGBTQ2 communities have been the object of conversion therapy, and more than half, 350,000, were among teenagers.

In other words, half of the victims of conversion therapy in the States were youth; under the age of 18.

I wanted to know more about how the medical profession — or the psychology profession — approached this issue of conversion therapy, because I thought it would be important to know what the perception is in relation to conversion therapy among the most credible medical professions.

Honourable senators, I can report to you — and I’m quoting here a report from the American Academy of Nursing on policy, the Pan American Health Organization, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Psychological Association, the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges concludes, and I quote:

. . . reparative therapies aimed at “curing” or changing same-sex orientation to heterosexual orientation are pseudo-scientific, ineffective, unethical, abusive and harmful practices that pose serious threats to the dignity, autonomy and human rights as well as to the physical and mental health of individuals exposed to them . . . that efforts to “repair” homosexuality, by any means, constitute health hazards to be avoided and are to be condemned as unethical assaults on human rights and individual identity, autonomy, and dignity.

It is difficult to find more professional sources than all those associations that I have just mentioned, but I went further.

I wanted to look into what I called the scientific community to try to find out how they have evaluated conversion therapy. I want to refer you to a study by Cornell University in New York. Most of you would know about Cornell University, but just to remind you: 58 Nobel Prizes from Cornell University and four Turing Award prizes for mathematics.

Cornell University went through 47 peer-reviewed studies. Of these, they concluded, the majority, that conversion therapy and I quote:

...is ineffective and/or harmful, finding links to depression, suicidality, anxiety, social isolation and decreased capacity for intimacy.

They went on to say:

There is also powerful evidence that trying to change a person’s sexual orientation can be extremely harmful.

Honourable senators, if you want to read the cases that they reviewed, there are absolutely horrendous cases of people mutilating their genitals with a razor and pouring Drano on the wounds. When you read this, you have the impression that you are in a torture room, because some people feel so ashamed that they just want to react by mutilating themselves and what is the source of their perception that they are not normal and they have to do anything to try to comply with the norm of their milieu, community, their churches or anyone who has, as I said, a psychological influence on them. Honourable senators, it is appalling when you read that kind of material that those practices can be conducted freely without any kind of prohibition.

Fortunately, even though the federal government has decided not to move for the time being, some provinces have moved. In particular, Ontario. Ontario adopted legislation — and I will quote it here — Ontario adopted legislation in 2015 with respect to services that seek to change the sexual orientation or the gender identity of patients, to prohibit the medical profession, because provinces have the responsibility to rule the professions. The provincial government has the authority to determine what kind of medical practice is admissible, and what kind of medical practice will be covered by health insurance. In other words, the person who provides the medical service could be paid by health insurance funds.

Ontario legislated this in 2015. You will be surprised, honourable senators, to learn that Nova Scotia also moved last year and I will read the purpose of the act:

The purpose of this Act is to protect Nova Scotia youth from damaging efforts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

I was also surprised to learn that Manitoba had also taken an initiative in 2015, and I read this in the news at that time:

[Translation]

The province of Manitoba has taken steps to ban conversion therapy in its health care system.

[English]

Even the City of Vancouver moved in June 2018 — a year ago — to take initiatives to make sure that municipal bylaws would prohibit the technique to try to convince people to engage in conversion therapy.

In other words, there has been action at the provincial level, but it is insufficient because it deals only with the medical profession. The provinces don’t have the capacity to create criminal offences. As I mentioned earlier on, the Parliament of Canada, according to the Supreme Court in 2011, has the capacity to determine that in the Criminal Code some “medical” practices will be prohibited because of the negative impact that they would have on the individual.

(2030)

I submit to honourable senators that those are not the only associations that have moved in relation to conversion therapy. The Canadian Psychological Association stated in 2015:

[Translation]

Conversion or reparative therapy can result in negative outcomes, such as distress, anxiety, depression, negative self-image, a feeling of personal failure, difficulty sustaining relationships, and sexual dysfunction.

[English]

In other words, honourable senators, in Canada, at the provincial level, among the Canadian medical profession, among the medical professionals of the psychology community in the United States, in Europe, the World Health Organization, in many international organizations, this practice has to be prohibited.

As I said, it has to be prohibited in our Criminal Code in the manner that we did with prostitution, which is essentially to prevent advertising and to prevent from deriving a material benefit of practising conversion therapies. In so doing, we protect the human rights, the Charter rights that exist in Canada and that we have to make sure we maintain when we legislate in the Criminal Code.

Honourable senators, I strongly invite you to reflect on this issue. It is a bit abhorrent. We don’t want to think about those things because they are so horrendous when you look into the details and you think of what it could be for an individual to be told that because he or she is born with a certain characteristic, because he has blue eyes or because he has brown eyes, those with blue eyes are not normal and they should all have brown eyes.

You are born with your brown eyes, you stay with your brown eyes, you value your brown eyes and you live your life happy with your brown eyes. When you’re born gay or when you’re born with a gender identity of your sort, you live the way you are and you have all the rights to be protected by the government and by society against any attempt to try to instill in you that you are not a normal person and that you have to change.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Joyal: I applauded when the Prime Minister took a formal stand, and that stand was applauded on both sides of the House of Commons. I applauded when we introduced and debated civil marriage in this chamber. Civil marriage is now part of the fabric of Canada. We addressed the fear and the questions around the celebration of marriage.

I thought that society had evolved and adapted itself. Parties have adapted themselves. Society has adapted itself, and the institution of marriage didn’t fall down because we allowed two people to commit themselves in front of the public, to support them, and to provide one another the kind of moral and material support that we commit when we marry a person that we love.

That didn’t change the institution of marriage. In my opinion, it strengthened the institution of marriage. How can we, as a society that is supposed to be egalitarian, where we value dignity, where we value equality, still tolerate that we would not give a strong signal to everyone in Canada that we have to prohibit conversion therapy in the context of our Criminal Code?

That’s why, honourable senators, I took the initiative to bring this forward and have you reflect on it. I think the ideal of this country is to strive for a larger equality, a better equality. We know what we have been doing in relation to equality for men and women. We’re not yet there, but at least we have an objective. We know where we are heading as a society. We know what we have to do in the economy. We know what we have to do in politics and what we have to do in our interpersonal relations between men and women. We have an objective. We have an ideal as a society. I think we should have as much an ideal to protect and to respect individuals the way they are.

We are all entitled to the same measure of equality and dignity. That is essentially what this bill tried to achieve.

I commend it to your reflection, honourable senators, and I hope we will continue to have and share those reflections because they are important. As I said, they impact the lives of individuals. We, in this chamber, are here to promote that reflection, to enlarge the conception and the horizon of our freedoms, our respect of others. And in this chamber, we can be the voice of those who don’t have a voice, those who could always be pushed behind because they don’t carry the vote of the majority.

In my opinion, honourable senators, this is good stuff for the Senate. That’s where we are at our best, to reflect on that context as much as our former colleague Senator Pierre Claude Nolin reflected on legalization of marijuana almost 20 years ago. And, well, today we are there.

I hope it won’t take 20 years to achieve prohibiting conversion therapy. As I said, it’s the Senate that opens the door, and it’s the Senate that brings the government to reflect, to take action and to send a strong message that when we legislate in the Criminal Code, we are serious because the rights of Canadians are at stake. We have only one preoccupation in this chamber. It’s to make sure that we respect the dignity and equality of each and every Canadian.

Thank you, honourable senators, for your attention, even though I know it’s late.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

[Translation]

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Cormier, do you wish to speak or ask a question?

Hon. René Cormier: I would like to ask Senator Joyal a question, if I may.

Senator Joyal: Yes.

Senator Cormier: Senator Joyal, thank you for introducing this bill and encouraging us to take a closer look at this practice that is still being used in Canada far too frequently on people from every region and every generation.

You were right to say that Canada has a long way to go. I’ve been researching this topic for months. I’m in contact with the Maltese government to understand how they dealt with similar legislation.

I have so many questions for you, but I will ask just one about the targeted group, people 18 and under. Why didn’t you include gender expression in the preamble or in the definition of conversion therapy, for instance, since it appears in Bill C-16, which we passed some time ago?

Also, Malta very deliberately chose to include vulnerable populations, people with mental health problems, for example, who are often targeted by these conversion therapies; why didn’t you follow their lead? That is my two-part question.

Senator Joyal: Thank you, honourable senator. I have before me the legislation that Malta passed on December 9, 2016. You’re right that the bill recognizes gender identity and sexual orientation.

[English]

The title is the Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Act. You can deduce from the title that it is essentially the objective of the bill at that time it was adopted.

The reason I didn’t mention it is because we already have a Charter of Rights; we have section 15, which is pretty clear in terms of affirming the principle of equality. We have the Human Rights Act that we have amended to include, you will remember, Bill C-16 that was sponsored by Senator Mitchell and adopted two years ago.

(2040)

There are, of course, at the provincial level, human rights codes that clearly state that sexual orientation is a prohibited ground of discrimination, and, of course, all the other grounds mentioned in those codes and the gender that has been added in relation to the Canadian Human Rights Act. I thought that was covering the principle that they didn’t have in the Malta situation.

Of course, Malta is a member of the European Union. It’s covered by the European Convention on Human Rights. If you have a violation, you can go to Strasbourg to make a claim and request a decision. But as you understand, our general statutory context is different than Malta.

As the dictum says, too strong doesn’t break. There is nothing that could prevent us from adding in the preamble the affirmation of gender equality and, of course, sexual orientation. It is totally possible, but as I say, I wanted to frame the act within the parameters of Bill C-36 in relation to prostitution because we had the benefit of the Bedford decision. I thought that to remain within those parameters would make sure that the bill could not be challenged on a ground that has not been reviewed by the court.

[Translation]

Senator Cormier: Mr. Speaker, might I be permitted to ask Senator Joyal a second question?

Thank you for your answer Senator Joyal. I believe that this gives us an opportunity for careful reflection because gender identity is now included everywhere.

The bill would make it an offence if there is consideration or advertising. In your opinion, what about those who volunteer to provide this therapy? This conversion therapy could be offered at no cost and would not be covered by this law. Is that correct?

[English]

Senator Joyal: There are two elements in the bill. The first is advertising. If you advertise and say, “My services are free,” you’re covered by the act because you advertise. But if you also draw a material benefit or some benefit, you are guilty of an offence under the Criminal Code. In other words, the two are separated, as by a fence. It is not to advertise and have a benefit. It’s to either advertise and draw a benefit, or either only draw a benefit or advertise. There are the various possibilities within the bill, to cover as much ground as possible.

Hon. Marilou McPhedran: Would Senator Joyal take another question?

Senator Joyal: With pleasure.

Senator McPhedran: Thank you so much for this inspiring speech and for your initiative.

As you know, but hopefully other senators know, the Dignity Network is meeting in Ottawa as you speak today and this evening, and I hope the initiative you’ve taken will be shared with them.

My question builds on what Senator Cormier has just asked. How do you anticipate dealing with what is a very real pattern of behaviour among certain groups within certain faith-based organizations who to a large extent do not need to advertise and do not charge but where, within their communication network, a tremendous amount of damage is being done to children whose parents are within those faith-based groups and consider their children’s gender identity to be unacceptable? Is there a way of protecting those children as well?

Senator Joyal: Thank you for the question, senator. It is a very sensitive one because we deal with freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. What for me is totally admissible as an attitude or an act or an intercourse would not be so according to another’s faith or conviction or religion. We have to respect that as much as when we legislated on civil marriage. There was a specific provision, and the Supreme Court was quite clear in its ruling in relation to the bill that we were invited to debate and pronounce on at the end that you cannot compel a church to celebrate a marriage whereby the principle of the church condemned that kind of marriage.

I think we all know that, for instance, the church to which I belong doesn’t recognize that a marriage between two persons of the same sex is a marriage that could be attested to by the church. In other words, there is no priest that would be a witness to my commitment to another partner of the same sex. That’s prohibited in my religion.

It doesn’t mean that because it is prohibited in my religion civil marriage should not exist. I happen to believe that the dogma of my church — it’s one of the seven sacraments — is what I have to abide by as much as another church might have a different conviction. The United Church of Canada has a different conviction, and a minister of the United Church can attest to a commitment under the marriage institution. So various churches have various positions.

You are right in stating that a church can, of course, through mouth to ear, state that such a person should be consulted and that the youth should be brought to that person to be consulted or that a camp should be organized to have all those youth together under the tutorship of a monitor who would, as I say, try to convince them that what they are is not acceptable and, according to their own belief and their own convictions, that should be changed.

As long as they don’t advertise and as long as they don’t draw material benefit, they will not be covered by this bill. There’s no doubt about that. I, too, reflected upon that, but I thought that this bill has to be thread in a way to respect sections of the Charter, as much as when we legislated on marriage and made special provisions that we could not compel a minister of a church to celebrate a marriage.

It is a fine line, as you might understand. We have a Charter. We value the Charter because it protects the freedom of conscience and religion of any Canadian, any person. As the Supreme Court has said, you could believe whatever you want according to your own church, even though for another one it would seem outrageous; but that’s not where the freedom of religion exists. The freedom exists in the commitment of a person to believe a set of convictions in relation to an explanation of the spirituality of the world as it works, as it evolves and as it has been created and as it has some kind of a future.

You believe in an interpretation of the world principle. You adhere to that, are loyal to that and try to abide by that. The court will never say, “No, this church is too wacko. That should not be protected.” That’s not what the court has said. The court has been very clear many times, especially a former retired chief justice, in many judgments that she has been signed — of course, with the concurrence of the court — that the court will never pronounce on the substance of a conviction.

As long as it is within those convictions, of course you can conclude that it might harm youth. It might create the same kind of damage and create low self-esteem because the person says, “I’m not like others and I feel bad because I try to repress that, but I can’t. It always comes back. It’s my nature.”

There’s no doubt that there is a situation of great unease, but it’s not what this bill is trying to avoid.

The Hon. the Speaker: I’m sorry, Senator Joyal. Your time has expired. I know there are a couple of other senators who want to ask questions. Are you asking for five more minutes, senator?

(2050)

Senator Joyal: Yes, please.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Frances Lankin: Thank you, Senator Joyal, for your initiative on this bill. I appreciate the passion that you bring to it, and I appreciate the thoughtfulness and the drafting of the bill in consideration of Charter issues. It’s also very helpful to hear the jurisdictional research that you’ve done, particularly with respect to the United States. However, I’m more familiar with what is happening in Canada.

I followed the work in the Ontario legislature. Former MPP Cheri DiNovo spearheaded that, and I think it was a tremendous accomplishment with respect to regulated health professions and their scope. As you have indicated, that is very important as is the insured services program of support in Ontario and other provinces.

I am interested in the fact that all of the literature, all of the research and evidence clearly states that for young people, at least, this is child abuse. The majority of victims of that child abuse in the form of conversion therapy are young people — that goes without saying — and the majority of people who have been exposed to conversion therapy are young people.

Is there an approach, just through the evolution of societal understanding, in terms of definitions of child abuse and inserting in those definitions an understanding of conversion therapy as a form of child abuse that is something that we should also be looking at and working with provincial and territorial partners on?

Senator Joyal: I thank you for the question, senator. This is an issue that I have been thinking about because, as Senator McPhedran said, the harm is done in a way. If we believe that, as I say, any person has the right to physical and psychological integrity, when you violate that integrity, the result is the same. There is harm. As I said, the purpose might seem sound to an adult, but the reality is that this is a violation of the autonomy and normalcy of the person and of the right to be who you are. We are born with the right to be who we are. That’s the most fundamental right. It’s not even expressed this way in the Charter, but it’s the way it has been interpreted by the courts. When you are born, you are born with the right to be who you are.

If there are situations whereby, as you describe, a young person is abused, there should be a way for the act to be interpreted such that this harm is covered.

I think that as much as youth protection is a provincial jurisdiction, there is a case in the province of Quebec that made headlines. As you know, a 7-year-old girl was abused by her foster parents and was found tied to a chair and beaten. She was taken to hospital where she later died. The province had a dire emotional reaction, but this is a reality. As much as I said this child was physically abused, she was also psychologically abused at the same time. We always put more emphasis on the physical aspect than on the psychological aspect, but the suffering is in the head. It is in the flesh but also in the head. As I say, conversion therapy is sometimes more prevalent in the head than in the physical, unless the person is led to self-mutilation as a reaction, as I described in the cases I read.

When the committee studies this bill, it should also look into whether the protection that exists in provincial legislation in terms of youth protection is sufficient to cover that situation. As much as the Minister of Justice was right in saying we have to continue to work with the federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for justice, there are initiatives the federal government can take and I think they should take.

I deplored the situation two years ago when the government made the excuse that there was not an initiative taken at that time because people were conscious of the need to do more. It’s not because you excuse yourself 50 years later that you are done with an issue. There is more to it than that. I hope the committee will continue to study this measure.

(On motion of Senator Cormier, debate adjourned.)