Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

The Senate chamber is shown in Ottawa, Friday June 3, 2011. The Senate is set to hold third-reading debate on bills to implement the Liberal government's budget and to establish net-zero emissions by 2050 before it rises tonight for the summer and a possible fall election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

/The Canadian Press

The window is closing on the possibility of the Senate being recalled to review and approve legislation that would effectively ban the practice of conversion therapy.

Senator Marc Gold, who represents the government in the upper house, shared a proposal earlier this month to recall senators during the summer to address Bill C-6. Leaders of the various Senate groups told The Globe and Mail they were discussing the request.

However, the Speaker has yet to call for the summer sittings, and many senators say they’re in the dark about whether they’ll be asked back. If an election begins in August or September and the Senate hasn’t passed Bill C-6, it will die and new legislation will need to be introduced.

Story continues below advertisement

“We had a meeting, there was clearly no agreement,” said Senator Scott Tannas, leader of the Canadian Senators Group. He said he didn’t know whether the government had made a decision on reconvening yet, but that the proposed summer sitting dates are approaching and he thinks the possibility has “slipped away.”

Mr. Gold’s proposal outlined that the legal and constitutional affairs committee, which would study the bill, should be done their work by July 26, with the Senate voting on the legislation by the 30th.

Before the committee could sit, the Speaker would have to recall senators, and they would need to have quorum in the physical chamber and vote to pass a motion allowing for virtual meetings over the summer. The committee would then require a few days to examine the legislation and potentially hear from witnesses before the Senate would once again reconvene and vote on the bill.

Even if the Senate was called back, this would all need to happen in just over two weeks to meet Mr. Gold’s deadline, and some Senators expressed frustration with this limited time frame.

“We can’t just rubber stamp it,” said Senator Paula Simons, a member of the Independent Senators Group who sits on the committee. “We are an independent Senate. And independent senators do not take marching orders from the government.”

Ms. Simons said she is a supporter of the bill and spoke passionately about it during second reading when she shared a story about her daughter.

“Conversion therapy destroys people’s lives,” she said. “We want to have the best possible legal regime to protect people from having their psyches damaged and their families destroyed by this bogus snake oil.”

Story continues below advertisement

Bill C-6 was one of four bills the House of Commons sent to the upper chamber at the end of June. The legislation would amend the Criminal Code to add conversion therapy, which is a widely criticized practice aimed at changing someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Conservative Party Senator Leo Housakos said in an e-mailed statement to The Globe this week that he supports the ban on conversion therapy but accused the government of playing politics with its public proposal to reconvene.

“The government’s inaction in the days since Senator Gold’s ‘urgent’ plea is another proof point of my assertions,” he said.

René Cormier, the Senate sponsor of the bill and a member of the Independent Senators Group, said he’s hopeful that they’ll reconvene this summer but that the leadership’s silence has made that seem increasingly unlikely.

“I’m going to continue working on this and I’m going to push to have this bill adopted,” he said, adding that if an election is called, he’ll work with the next government to introduce new conversion therapy legislation.

“In Canada we have the right to be who we are, and to identify as we want to,” he said. “It’s a matter of human rights.”

Story continues below advertisement

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies