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“Of course they put it right before an election,” MP Schmale says about Bill C-6

The Liberals’ Bill C-6 – which bans conversion therapy in Canada – passed third reading in the House of Commons Tuesday, but our MP Jamie Schmale is criticizing the timing of it.

Schmale was one of the 263 MPs that voted in favour of the bill, but 63 didn’t. “I think everyone – even those that voted against the bill – have said, quite clearly, full stop, that conversion therapy is wrong,” he says. “The problem is the government played politics with this bill. They wrote the bill in such a way that those who value free speech would be very cautious in voting for this bill.”

He notes that he held a constituency referendum earlier this year with over 60-percent of residents in his riding in favour of him voting to approve the bill.

Conversion therapy is an act that can include talk therapy, hypnosis, electric shocks and fasting aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

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“We could have got this done a lot faster and many years ago, but it plays better going into an election and putting the wording in it the way they did,” the Haliburton-Kawartha-Lakes-Brock MP says.

Schmale says some criticism has been levied at the Liberals from the Conservatives because the bill is so “poorly written” and would be harmful to people’s free speech. He adds that before the vote was held,  he reached out to the Parliamentary Law Clerk who said, “freedom of speech would not be curtailed.”

“The government decided to play politics with (the bill) rather than actually get to the root of the problem which is banning the worst part of conversion therapy and the advertising and the seeking of profits for that service,” Schmale says, adding that the Liberals should have acted sooner on the issue, pointing out how they’ve been in power since 2015. “Of course they put it right before an election,” he tells the newsroom.

The bill passed its third reading Tuesday but is not law yet. It’s now being sent to the Senate for further debate, if it passes, will need Royal Assent to become law. The legislation amends the Criminal Code banning the advertising or collecting of money for conversion therapy and makes it illegal to force a minor to undergo the harmful practice.

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