An important step forward

Written by Brenda Schimke

Conservative leader, Erin O’Toole, failed miserably in the last federal election by talking out of two sides of his mouth—giving his western reform base what they wanted to hear and then projecting a national agenda to the rest of the country. 

Of course, it didn’t work.

Yet his surprising move to demand, and get all his MPs to vote in favour of banning conversion therapy—a process to knock straight an LGBTQ person—was surprising and welcome.

Of course, the criminalization of conversion theory affects few of us, but it is very meaningful for the majority of Canadians who believe all peoples should be protected and treated fairly.

The Liberal Party has always had an undeniable advantage over the Conservatives because the NDP were there to house the extremes on the far left. The arrival of the People’s Party of Canada could be an equivalent god-send for the Conservative party.

John Ibbitson, a columnist in the Globe & Mail, has for years been writing about what Conservatives need to do to win again. In a November column, he compared the Conservative Party of Canada to the Labour Party in the UK where they, too, have been languishing in obscurity since the time of Tony Blair. Somewhere in those intervening years, the Labour party became radicalized on the far left causing the working class and the political centre to flee to the Conservatives, where they still reside.

In Canada, although on the opposite side of the political spectrum, Preston Manning’s reform movement and Stephen Harper’s affinity with American Republican politics empowered the radical right, and similarly drove progressive conservatives and the political centre into the arms of the Liberal Party, where many still reside, albeit unhappily.

Many on the far right still argue that the Conservative Party needs another Stephen Harper, but those promoting this dream forget the ‘why’ of his crushing defeat. Even after the most recent election, defeated Conservative candidates in heavily populated areas, bemoaned the lingering stench from Harper’s ‘barbaric cultural practices’ hotline and other racially charged words and actions.

O’Toole and his MP’s unanimous support of the LGBTQ community in banning conversion therapy was a national win for the Conservative Party.

History is littered with human tragedies whenever a religious sect forms a tight bond with political powers. Canada’s own dismal example, the human tragedy brought about by the Catholic church and the federal government working together to ‘knock the native’ out of our first peoples.

Churches and politics need to stay in their lanes. The conversion therapy vote was the first sign that the Conservative Party under Erin O’Toole has learned this reality. Canadians don’t want a theocracy.

When a religious sect, whether Christian, Islam, Catholic, Buddhist or Hindu get in bed with a government to impose their specific morality laws, discriminatory treatment and horrible human tragedies always follow. 

One only needs to look at today’s Russia, the United States, Myanmar, India, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Brazil, Poland or Hungary to see the atrocities that have and continue to unfold against peoples who don’t worship the ordained ‘state’ God.

Canadians believe in freedom of religion, but the majority also believe in the separation of church and state.

In all religions, faith leaders are responsible to teach, disciple, and discipline congregants for their morality lapses. Whereas, democractic governments are responsible for the protection of everyone’s human rights, regardless of faith. 

Erin O’Toole, you are to be congratulated on your conversion therapy victory as are the many evangelical Christians and Catholics in your Caucus who voted with you. It was an important step forward.


Brenda Schimke

ECA Review

About the author

Brenda Schimke

Schimke is a Graduate with Distinction from the University of Alberta with a BCom degree. She has lived and worked in Alberta, BC and Ontario.