C-4: Bad Politicians Pass a Bad Bill
Gerry T. Neal
December 15, 2021
As anyone who has followed my writings for any significant length of time will know when I identify my politics and general philosophy as Tory this is not in reference to the Conservative Party. This is something that I wish to emphasize in light of the disgraceful behaviour of that party in the last couple of weeks. To me, being a Tory means being loyal to and supporting traditional institutions that have proven themselves over long ages of time. In the political sense the primary such traditional institution is hereditary royal monarchy. The second such institution is parliament. True Toryism means placing these institutions ahead of abstract ideals like democracy, equality, and even freedom although freedom is not just an abstract ideal but also a basic human good, a good which over the long run is better protected by traditional institutions than by political crusades launched in its name as an abstract ideal. It also means suspicion and skepticism towards the utopian schemes of those who think that either such ideals or what they consider to be “science” should be the basis of a new, re-ordered, engineered society. It is a confidence in traditional institutions over the long term, rather than the people who make them up in the short term. This needs to be stressed especially in regards to parliament. Earthly human institutions, even traditional ones, are not infallible. They are of necessity made up of people, and therefore fallible due to the flaws in fallen human nature. Parliaments are made up of politicians, who have more than their fair share of those flaws.
The recent actions of our Canadian Parliament alluded to above in reference to the disgraceful behaviour of the Conservative Party illustrate the point. In passing Bill C-4, a bill which is objectively not only evil but insane, Parliament failed big time. This was not because of some flaw in the Westminster System as it evolved over time that can be fixed by social and political engineers. The problem is entirely in the character of the human beings who make up both the House and the Senate.
Bill C-4 is a new version of a bill the Liberals introduced in the last Parliament which failed to pass the Senate in time to become law, itself a re-worked version of an earlier bill that had expired when Parliament was prorogued last summer. It was introduced on the twenty-ninth of November, passed the House of Commons on the first of December when all parties extradited it, and passed the Senate on the seventh of December. The bill that had been introduced in the last Parliament had been quite controversial and this new version, rather than remove the objectionable elements, made them worse. Therefore, for the Conservatives led by Erin O’Toole to help the Grits pass this bill unanimously was for them to abdicate their duties in the role of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. For the Senate to pass the bill so quickly was for them to abdicate their duty as the chamber of “sober second thought”. The Liberals, in this Parliament as in the last, are a minority government. Even if they were a majority, they ought not to be able to fast-track controversial legislation like this. Something is very, very, wrong here.
Bill C-4 amends the Criminal Code to forbid “causing another person to undergo conversion therapy”, “doing anything for the purpose of removing a child from Canada with the intention that the child undergo conversion therapy outside Canada”, “promoting or advertising conversion therapy” and “receiving a financial or other material benefit from the provision of conversion therapy”. Now, some explanation may be required here.
There are people who, like almost everyone else, were born either biologically male or biologically female but who, unlike most other people, either a) think that they are of the other sex than what their body would indicate, b) think that they are some option other than male or female, c) identify as their biological sex but are sexually attracted to members of their own sex either instead of or in addition to members of the opposite sex, or d) are some combination or minute variation of the above. Those among these who have politicized their gender/sexual identities – or allowed ideologues of the cultural revolutionary far-left to politicize these for them – and who collectively refer to themselves by an ever-increasing stretch of letters standing for the various labels they identify themselves with and which currently goes something like LGBTTQAEIOUandsometimesY, have demanded that “conversion therapy” be banned.
Now, among those in the aforementioned group who believe their true “gender” to be different from the biological sex they were born with, some seek out reconstructive surgery that would make their bodies, at least in outward appearance, conform to the gender with which they identify. This is not what is meant by “conversion therapy” and those who have been pushing for the ban on “conversion therapy” would be appalled at the thought of banning this sort of thing. Indeed, many of them wish to see it available to young children with or without parental approval or consent.
No, “conversion therapy” could be said to be the opposite of the above mentioned procedure. Whereas gender reassignment surgery is cosmetic surgery that makes the appearance of the body conform to the self-image, that makes the physical conform to the psychological, on the assumption that the physical is “wrong” and the psychological “right”, “conversion therapy” is psychological treatment aimed at correcting the psychological so that it conforms to the physical, on the opposite assumption, the assumption that the physical is right and the psychological wrong.
Now, among those who support legislation like Bill C-4 that bans “conversion therapy”, there seem to be many who base their support on the assumption that “conversion therapy” entails something like the Ludovico technique that features into Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange and the 1971 Stanley Kubrick film of the same title featuring Malcolm McDowell. In that story, you might recall, Alex – the character portrayed by McDowell in the film – is the leader of a gang of “ultraviolent” youth that he calls his “droogs”, who, after robbing and beating an eccentric elderly woman, the last in a string of such thuggish acts, is abandoned by his friends, arrested, and charged for the murder of the woman who dies from her wounds. In prison, he is offered the chance to get out early if he will undergo the experimental Ludovico technique that would make him incapable of reoffending. He jumps at the opportunity. The technique involves strapping him in a chair, with his eyes propped open, and forcing him to watch hours of extremely violent film footage, while he is injected with drugs that cause pain and nausea. He is thereby so conditioned to experience pain and illness at the slightest thought of violence that he cannot even defend himself. Proponents of Bill C-4 have certainly encouraged people to assume that this is how “conversion therapy” works. The legislation itself, however, is worded in such a way as to cover a lot more than just this sort of thing.
The bill introduces into law a definition of “conversion therapy” as meaning:
a practice, treatment, or service that is 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.
Notice the following about this definition:
First, if someone were to create something like the Ludovico technique designed to turn a heterosexual person into a homosexual person, or a cisgender person into a transgender person, it would not meet the definition of “conversion therapy’ introduced in the bill. Thus, although this sort of legislation has been sold to the public as a ban of a harmful technique akin to brainwashing it is no such thing. No technique that has been used in “conversion therapy” in the past is banned by this legislation and remains legal under it provided the conversion is in the opposite direction of what the bill forbids.
Second, the definition is broad enough to take in any sort of counselling or advice that encourages people to recognize, acknowledge and identify as their birth sex and to live within the limits of traditional sexual ethics. Indeed, (d) could be interpreted as banning the teaching of traditional sexual ethics altogether. It would not surprise me if the clowns that now occupy Her Majesty’s bench in most jurisdictions in the Dominion were to interpret it in just this manner.
So what we have here is a definition that errs by being too broad and too narrow at the same time. It is too broad in that it takes in things that government has no business legislating against – traditional sexual ethics and counselling based on the same. It is too narrow in that it does not ban what the public has been told it bans – coercive and abusive techniques qua coercive and abusive techniques.
In its previous incarnations as Bill C-8 (first attempt) and C-6 (second attempt), this legislation met with opposition on precisely the grounds that the definition of “conversion therapy” was too broad and could take in professional and pastoral counselling, pulpit teaching and preaching, and even ordinary conversation in which traditional views of sexual identity and ethics are expressed. The present bill has done nothing to assuage such concerns and, indeed, is worse than its predecessors in that whereas the earlier bills were attempts to ban “conversion therapy” for children the bill which actually passed Parliament also bans “conversion therapy” for adults. The earlier versions were bad enough in that given the broad definition of “conversion therapy” they would have made criminals out of parents who seek out help for their children in accordance with their own consciences and beliefs rather than those of the left-wing ideologues in the Liberal Party of Canada. With the passing of this bill, however, when it comes into effect the state of the law will be such that those who identify their gender as something other than the biological sex with which they were born will have no problem obtaining the kind of “conversion therapy” that consists of physical surgery to make the body conform in appearance to “gender identity”, and should someone for some reason or another want professional help in converting from heterosexuality to homosexuality or from cisgender identity to transgender identity (1) the law would not prohibit some quack from providing this service even if it involves dangerous, pain-inducing, methods, but those who want help in accepting their biological sex or controlling same-sex desires that they believe it is wrong to act upon will be prevented from finding such help and anyone offering such help, even in the form of conversational counselling, will face criminal punishment for doing so.
A bill of this sort is fundamentally and thoroughly rotten legislation that is clearly aimed at imposing “woke” ideology as it pertains to sex and gender on Canadians at the expense of traditional religious and moral beliefs as well as personal freedom of choice. It ought never to have passed Parliament at all, much less without debate and with unanimous support in both chambers, and with Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and the Upper Chamber of “sober second thought” both patting themselves on the back for refusing to do their jobs. Parliament is an institution that has stood the test of time and proven itself over and over again, but if we keep sending to it the sort of people who currently fill its seats – and I include those on the Opposition bench as well as those in government in this – then cruddy legislation like this will keep making it into law.
(1) A case can be made that what goes under the name “education” today in most schools (other than private and parochial ones) and universities amounts to little more than just this sort of “reverse conversion therapy” inflicted upon unsuspecting youth.