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WS DEBATES: Edmonton’s conversion therapy ban

The WS is pleased to bring you a “duelling columnist debate” on Edmonton’s controversial ban of conversion therapy.

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On December 10th, 2019, Edmonton City Council banned the “practice and promotion” of conversion therapy within its city limits. ‘Conversion therapy’ is a broad term used for a range of practices involving sexual orientation and identity. The full wording of the bylaw can be found HERE.

The Western Standard is pleased to bring you a “Duelling Columnists Debate” between John Carpay and guest columnist Robbie Kreger-Smith on the controversial topic. 

The Question: Is Edmonton’s bylaw ban of C.T. a reasonable protection of the vulnerable, or an attack on religious and personal liberties? 

John Carpay

Robbie Kreger-Smith

Edmonton’s recent ban on “conversion therapy” is a gross intrusion into the private lives and private conversations of Canadian adults.  Fifty years ago, Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau declared that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” and that the government should ignore “what’s done in private between adults.” But now, acting on a “government knows best” ideology, local politicians (without education, training or credentials in medicine, psychology, theology or counselling) are expressing a keen interest in “what’s done in private between adults.” Edmonton’s city councilors are not interested in what happens in bedrooms, but they want to know what is happening in the offices of psychologists, on therapists’ couches, and in private counselling sessions with clergy at mosques, synagogues, churches and temples.

This ideological bylaw violates freedom, privacy and common sense.

First, through its extremely broad definition of “conversion therapy,” this Bylaw lumps harmful and discredited attempts to change sexual orientation (e.g. electric shock applied to genitals; forced counselling; chemical castration) into the same category as helping confused children to accept their biological gender, as was done successfully for decades by Dr. Kenneth Zucker and others. This bylaw imposes ideology, not science.

Second, politicians have no business regulating the practice of medicine, psychology or psychiatry. These professions are already regulated by governing bodies with actual expertise in those fields, such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. Edmonton politicians, lacking actual qualifications are merely grandstanding and virtue-signaling.

Third, this bylaw removes choices from parents and children by mandating that the only legal way to help gender-confused youth is by encouraging them to “transition” to the opposite sex, through puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and eventually surgery. Other treatment options become illegal.

Fourth, this bylaw attacks the freedom of adults to make their own choices about their own sexuality, and to discuss those choices with the medical professionals and/or the religious leaders of their own choice. This bylaw shows no respect or tolerance for “what’s done in private between adults.”

Last but not least, this bylaw removes from LGBTQ people the same wide and full range of services and options that are available to straight people. When it comes to making personal choices about one’s sexuality, government does not know best.  If government is going to ban something, let it ban only those practices which are clearly punitive, coercive or otherwise fully discredited.

Rebuttal

The practices that Mr. Kreger-Smith complains of (physical and sexual assault, mental coercion, electrical shock therapy, and forced drugging) have indeed harmed people. These exceedingly rare practices are already illegal, prohibited by the Criminal Code and/or by the ethical guidelines of various professional bodies.

There is no conflict between LGBTQ rights and Charter-protected religious freedoms, provided that rights and freedoms are properly understood. No group in society (neither atheists, nor fundamentalist Muslims or Christians, nor LGBTQ people) has a right to public affirmation or the approval of other people. In a free country, you can say that attending a church or mosque is stupid; that having sex outside of a male-female marriage is sinful; that Christians are hateful bigots. Those are called “opinions” and they are constitutionally protected under section 2(b) of the Charter. In a free country, government has no business imposing the “correct” view of sexuality any more than it does imposing the “correct” views on economics, man-made climate change, or historical controversies. Conflicts only arise when people assert a totalitarian claim to have other people agree with them.

What ‘modern society’ accepts or rejects as norms should not be imposed on individuals. People have the right to make decisions for themselves about their own sexuality, including seeking celibacy, freedom from sexual addictions, or whatever internal or external changes a person may want.

Policing this bylaw will take an army of bureaucrats to observe, monitor and evaluate “what’s done in private between adults.” Ken Williams, who identifies as Christian and ex-gay, asks: “What gives you the right to decide what I would like to pursue with my sexuality?” 

Edmonton’s bylaw specifically restricts the right of individuals, whether religious or non-religious, to pursue their own chosen goals and objectives. This ideological bylaw is a gross abuse of state power.

John Carpay is a columnist with the Western Standard and the President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

Edmonton City Council recently joined other Alberta & Canadian municipalities in banning conversion therapy.

This move comes as Alberta has taken a hands-off approach to regulating the controversial practice, while the prime minister gave Justice Minister David Lametti direction in his mandate letter to move to amend the Criminal Code to outlaw the practice.

To frame this discussion, we need to look at the practices that constitute conversion therapy. Survivors of the practice have relayed experiences including physical and sexual assault, mental coercion, electrical shock therapy, forced drugging, and more.

The root motivation for conversion therapy is the premise that being LGBTQ is a disorder that should be corrected. While homosexuality was a listed psychological disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), it was declassified in 1970, and removed completely from the DSM in 1986. Medical and psychological doctrine has evolved with further research, knowledge, and practical experience.

The conflict between the rights of LGBTQ people and the religious freedoms laid out in the Charter has been one that has received significant political, social, and judicial attention over the course of my adulthood.

Where a conflict exists between two rights, the filter that must be applied is one of minimizing harm. There is clear evidence that those who have been subjected to these “treatments” suffer significant psychological harm, including PTSD, feelings of rejection, increased suicidal ideation, self-harm behaviours, and increased addictions.

These “treatments” are based on outdated religious and societal “norms” that have been rejected in large part by modern society, scientists, medical professionals, and even by several proponents of the so-called ex-gay community – a movement that attempted to popularize the notion that people can change their sexuality.

There are zero peer-reviewed studies showing these treatments to be effective. On the contrary, research shows those who are afforded affirming environments can go on to be well adjusted and contributing members of society.

Edmonton’s bylaw does nothing to restrict an individual with sincerely held religious beliefs from carrying out those beliefs. Instead, it prevents the imposition of those beliefs on others, where harm is a reasonably expected outcome.

Ultimately an individual who wishes to repress their sexuality will still have that freedom. Those who wish to live free from the prospect of being forced into an abusive and debunked treatment protocol can rest assured they have legislative protections of their life, liberty, and security of their person.

Rebuttal 

Jurisdictions moving to ban conversion therapy are taking the next logical step in Pierre Trudeau’s missive that the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.

What Edmonton’s bylaw allows for is individuals to exercise their autonomy and free will. Despite the view from some that children are possessions, case law actually validates that parents are guardians, not owners.

Neuroscientific and cytogenetic research validates that people may experience a disconnect between their biological gender and psychological and physical expression. While the binary is the most prevalent, there are multiple combinations of chromosomes that do naturally occur and abundant scientific, peer-reviewed evidence supports this.

Politicians do have business regulating the practice of medicine, psychology, and psychiatry – and have done so for a large portion of our modern history. The Alberta Health Professions Act was passed 20 years ago – amalgamating 30 health professionals’ self-regulatory powers and legislative accountability to the government. None of these regulatory bodies supports conversion therapy.

Edmonton’s bylaw does not mandate children to transition genders. It prevents the use of coercive and abusive treatment techniques to try and force an LGBTQ person into being someone they are not.

We don’t allow adults, even those consenting, to submit to psychological torture and physical abuse. The professional organizations that regulate these areas all agree conversion therapy is tantamount to abuse.

Discussion between parishioners and clergy will not be restricted; attempts to coerce and manipulate people into suppressing their biological predispositions will.

To say this bylaw removes options available to straight people is farcical. Have you ever heard of a straight person seeking out therapy to become gay? Of course not.

Perhaps, rather than passing judgment on people experiencing challenges we don’t understand, we should encourage the biblical concepts of love and acceptance. Our society would be much richer for it.

Robbie Kreger-Smith is an Edmonton based political and communications consultant and advocate for LGBTQ rights and economic empowerment. 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Godot

    December 17, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    No surprises here. Iveson’s first order of business is to support any and all virtue signalling/woke/green agendas. Spend a few minutes listening to him talk – he is the poster boy for all things politically correct. His favourite occupation is going into elementary schools and indoctrinating the kids with climate change propaganda.

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Features

Top Ten Good News Stories: 2019 Edition

Western Standard brings you the top 10 stories sure to make Westerns smile back on 2019.

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2019 was not a good year for Western Canada. With a few exceptions, most news concerning our half of the country was unrelentingly negative. But good things did happen (most of them elsewhere), and the beginning of a new decade seems a suitable time to reflect back on the stories that made Westerners smile.

10. Don Cherry’s private podcast received the highest listenership in Canada shortly after being dismissed by Sportsnet-CBC for his politically incorrect soliloquy on Coach’s Corner. Debate raged over if his comments were genuinely racist, or just the latest example of puritanical cancel culture censoring anything controversial. Lost in most of the debate was the hypocrisy of most left-leaning Canadians voting to keep a man who engaged in the unquestionably racist act of blackface, while demanding that Canada’s uncle be fired for speaking his mind. 

9. Western Canada is more united than it has been in years, with the notable exception of BC. The bloc of blue on election night spoke more loudly than all the rallies or convoys ever could. As it was in 1980 under Trudeau Sr., the Liberals do not hold a single seat between Winnipeg and Vancouver. It’s unlikely the voice of the West will be listened in substance, but if they don’t get the message now, they likely never will.  

8. Western Independence is back with a vengeance. While federalists might not view this as positive, it has got the attention of the Laurentians and as every negotiator knows, to be successful you need an ‘or else’. The question is, if the federalists don’t take the ‘or else’ seriously, can the sovereigntist movement move beyond shouting, to become a serious threat?

7. Teck Resources’ Frontier oil sands mine (sort of) approved. It took ten years and still requires approval from feds, but it’s good news and would create 7,000 jobs if Justin Trudeau allows it to go ahead. If he chooses to side with the climate extremists, it’s likely that the still rag-tag sovereigntist movement will see a flood of new recruits. 

6. Polar bears are back. Long the symbol of apocalyptic climate predictions, the polar bear has increased in numbers to the point where they are causing problems for northern communities. Good news for the bears, bad news for the climate extremists in search of a new icon.

5. The world is growing greener. According to NASA, leaf cover on Earth has increased by two million square miles since the early 2000s. That’s more than half the size of Canada and a five per cent increase from two decades ago. The two primary factors causing this are hyper-efficient agriculture and increased CO2, which depending on your worldview is either plant food, or earth-ending pollution.

4. ISIS was defeated and its leader Al-Baghdadi is dead. It’s difficult to tell exactly how much of this is responsible for a 52 per cent worldwide reduction in deaths from acts of terrorism, but it has surely played a significant part. After 20 years of chasing terrorists in never-ending foreign wars, its finally some good news. 

3. Boris Johnson destroyed Corbyn’s Labour Party in the UK election. Brexit will go ahead, the outcome of the referendum respected. Since Britons voted to leave the EU, globalists have lamented the push back against centralized political and economic control, while patriotic movements have looked to it for hope.

2. Hong Kong still stands strong against all odds, and has not (yet) been overrun by China’s nouveau-communist regime. The courage of freedom fighters in Hong Kong is inspiring, and the sight of its students standing up against tyranny contrasts with students in Western countries demanding free tuition and safe spaces. 

Credit: NDP website

1. The NDP lost their bid for re-election on April 16th, making them Alberta’s first one-term government in its history, and ending the province’s socialist experiment that arguably began with Alison Redford. As Rachel Notley failed to gain “social license” from her green allies, Albertans had little time for punishing economic policies with little gain in sight. It remains to be seen if Jason Kenney’s tough talk with Ottawa can produce anything but headlines, or if more drastic measures will be required. 

Bonus: An aspiring modern Michelangelo duct taped a banana to a wall and sold it for $120,000, presumably as art. In front of a crowd of stunned onlookers, another artist ate it claiming his snack was an ‘art performance’ titled ‘Hungry Artist’. The Western Standard does not endorse vandalism, but we struggle to place this in the same category. 

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MCCOLL: Rearming the Canadian Air Force

Canada’s Air Force is falling apart. Here are the top 10 items that can put it back in operation.

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Successive Conservative and Liberal Governments in Canada have come up short on our NATO spending commitments. The 2020s (or can we now just say twenties?) will be a critical decade for rebuilding the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as our entire fixed wing combat force needs to be replaced. Below are the top 10 most affordable purchases we could make to adequately rearm the RCAF. Please forgive me if it sounds like the 12 days of Christmas for defence procurement lobbyists.

120 Saab CF-39 Gripen-E/F Fighter Jets to replace the CF-18

Much has been made of the fighter “capability gap” over recent years, but few truly appreciate how large that gap has become. During the major CF-18 modernization upgrade of the early 2000s, the CF-18 force shrunk from 120 jets to only 80 as 40 aircraft were retired or torn apart for spares as a cost saving measure. The Harper government’s plan to purchase only 65 F-35As meant that Canada could only fly one of three major missions at a time: the NORAD mission, a NATO mission, or a major self defence mission (like defending Vancouver during the Olympics). The Trudeau government plan to purchase to 88 fighters should allow us to just barely fly two of the three major missions at a time. Returning to a fighter fleet of 120, like we had during the Kosovo conflict, would allow us to fully live up to our international commitments and be in three places at once.

Limited by reality (sorry CF-23 fans – that’s never going to happen), the Gripen is the obvious choice as it’s one of the most advanced fighters in the world, is the only one that would be made in Canada, and is the only aircraft that’s affordable enough that I can recommend buying 120 of them while leaving enough money for the rest of this list. Canadian CF-39 Gripen-E/F jets would be assembled at a new Saab/Bombardier factory in Mirabel, Quebec while creating the domestic jobs at the lowest cost to taxpayers. With such a large order, Canada could justify selecting the newer, and 18 per cent more powerful, General Electric F414 Enhanced jet engine. This engine would make our fighters truly worthy of the name: “CF-39 Arrow II.”

6 Saab/Bombardier GlobalEye Airborne Radar Jets

Canada lacks any Airborne Radar jets and instead benefits from those of our allies. If we want to pull our weight, then we should purchase our own airborne radar jets. Five Saab/Bombardier GlobalEye jets have been ordered by the UAE (the first 3 are already flying). Based on the Bombardier Global business jet, the “green aircraft” are made in Toronto before being flown to Sweden for militarization. Saab recently quoted a pair of GlobalEye jets to Finland and is working with Bombardier to compete for other European orders. A Canadian order would signal long term NATO support for the GlobalEye, help win more export orders, and create more manufacturing jobs in Toronto.

16 Saab/Bombardier Swordfish Jets to replace the CP-140

Canada’s 14 CP-140 Maritime Patrol Aircraft are even older than the CF-18s and need to be replaced before 2030. The only made-in-Canada frontrunner is the Saab/Bombardier Swordfish. The Swordfish is also based on the Bombardier Global business jet. Combining a GlobalEye and Swordfish order would be enough to shift all militarization work to the new Bombardier factory in Toronto.

4 Bombardier Global VIP Jets

Canada’s four aging Bombardier Challenger VIP jets are antiquated and desperately in need of replacement. One of the proven ways to save money on military aircraft is to reduce the variety of jets in service and consolidate the spare parts inventory. With a fleet of 22 Global based Swordfish and GlobalEye aircraft, adding four Global jets in the VIP configuration would simplify logistics while upgrading the small VIP jet capacity.

1 Airbus A330neo VIP and 2 A330neo Passenger Jets

Canada’s aging CC-150 Polaris fleet (Airbus A310-300) is made up of 1 VIP jet, 2 passenger jets, and 2 tankers. Earlier this year our only VIP version was badly damaged in a hanger accident and is still out-of-service. The spare passenger CC-150 that took Prime Minister Trudeau to London for the NATO summit broke down in London and another jet had to take him back to Canada. It’s becoming an embarrassment and, as is so often the case, taxpayers are spending a small fortune keeping obsolete aircraft flying beyond their best before date. We should emulate Australia and consolidate on the proven and cost-effective Airbus A330 platform.

6 Airbus A330neo Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT)

Australian A330 MRTT, Super Hornets, Growlers, and American B-1B Bomber

Australia, France, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the UAE, and UK all fly the successful A330 MRTT while Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway financially contribute to NATO shared A330 tankers. Canadian tankers should be built like Australia’s tankers and be equipped with a pair of wing-mounted refueling pods and a flying refueling boom. This would allow Canada to refuel any NATO aircraft.

22 Boeing T-7 Red Hawk Trainers for the Snowbirds Air Demonstration Team 

The 1960s Era CT-114 Tutors are falling apart and the RCAF plans on replacing them sometime in the early 2020s. The new T-7 won the US Air Force T-38 replacement competition in 2018. The T-7 was developed and built in extensive partnership with Saab to keep upfront and flying costs affordable. A Canadian order would keep President Trump happy because we’d be buying America. Additional T-7s could be purchased when our CT-155 Hawk jet trainers need to be replaced.

AIM-9X Sidewinder Missiles

During the last major CF-18 upgrade, the CF-18s gained the ability to carry advanced High Off-Boresight (HOBS) within visual range (WVR) missiles including the latest American AIM-9X Sidewinder missile. In typical Canadian fashion, we cheaped out at the last minute and never bought any new missiles. The Auditor General, in a scathing 2018 report, was critical of the lack of planned combat capability upgrades for the CF-18. Finally purchasing these modern missiles is the least expensive way to add combat capability to the CF-18 force. The Gripen can also carry the AIM-9X, so missiles purchased for the CF-18s could be reused on Canada’s future Gripens. 

Munitions, Munitions, Munitions!

The RCAF has often relied on begging and borrowing weapons form our allies when we exhaust our limited stores during a major coalition operation. This should be put to an end by purchasing an adequate inventory of weapons.

First, we need a good stockpile of NATO standard bombs (500, 1000, and 2000 pounds) and laser/GPS guidance kits. Second is new long-range radar guided missiles: the Gripen supports the new European Meteor missile, widely regarded as one of NATO’s most potent Air to Air weapons and reportedly less expensive than the latest American AIM-120D. Third is a new Anti-Ship missile: the Saab RBS-15 Odin’s Spear is certified for both the Gripen and the Swordfish and has a ground attack mode so it can double as an Air Launched Cruise Missile. Finally, we should invest in some low-collateral damage air-to-ground weapons including the latest Small Diameter Bombs and Brimstone missiles.

4 New Twin Otters to replace the 1970’s era Twin Otters

Just because the original design of the Twin Otter was a resounding success for remote operations in the Canadian wilderness doesn’t mean that it makes sense keeping 50-year-old versions flying. In March, one of the RCAF’s old Twin Otters was damaged during a landing near Inuvik. New Twin Otters are being made by Viking in Calgary and are being sold all over the World (even the US Military buys them). Let’s get some of that equalization money flowing back towards Calgary with a much needed RCAF purchase.

Alex McColl is the National Defence Columnist for the Western Standard.

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Features

FORBES: Make buying Western your New Years resolution

Here are a few suggestions for how you can support Western Canada with your purchasing power in 2020.

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Vote with your dollars

In our electoral system we only get a chance once every few years to cast a ballot. But with every single purchase you are voting with your dollars for which businesses you want to support. So why not vote with your dollars to support our economy, our jobs, and our small businesses? For your New Year’s resolution, let’s make a conscious effort to support local Western Canadian businesses.

Of course, there are many excellent big businesses based elsewhere that employ Western Canadians by the hundreds and this is not intended as a knock against them. But there are many small, locally-based businesses that are struggling right now much more than the big companies. Small companies in Calgary, for example, are facing tax hikes from the municipal government. They need our patronage more than ever.

Supporting local businesses should be a voluntary, market-based decision, not imposed by government, but here are a few suggestions for how you can support Western Canada with your purchasing power in 2020.

Reduce your online shopping

Next time you click on Amazon or another major online retailer, ask yourself who ultimately benefits from your purchase. Sure, you may save a couple of dollars when you shop online. But every other step of the process is probably benefiting someone else who might be actively working against you. The product itself is probably made in China (often with questionable working conditions for their employees) and the distributor is probably based in the Greater Toronto Area or one of the major U.S. cities.

Instead, you could choose to support local jobs by shopping at a brick-and-mortar store in Western Canada. Of course, there are also plenty of businesses based here in the West that operate primarily online, and some may even use a big-name company like Amazon or eBay to get their product out to market. That’s fine too. Just do a bit of research first to make sure your dollars are going where you want them to go.

A classic brick-and-mortar bookstore (Source: Martin Cathrae, WikiCommons)

Make shopping a fun outing again

Take your spouse and kids out for a Saturday afternoon to an indoor farmers’ market. If you live in or near a major centre like Calgary or Edmonton, there are so many options for indoor farmers’ markets. Despite the name, farmers’ markets are not just about agriculture. In addition to high quality Western produce, each market has a wide variety of small independent businesses ranging from hand-made crafts to used books and movies to toys and treats.

Instead of just clicking a few buttons on your computer and having a parcel arrive at your door, why not go explore a new part of your town or city? Make it a family outing, let everyone pick a little treat to buy, and support a handful of small local businesses all in one convenient location.

Calgary Farmers’ Market (Source: Mack Male, WikiCommons)

Try some new locally-made food

McDonald’s drive-thru again? That mall food court has all the same options you’ve had so many times before. We’ve all been in that funk of choosing the familiar option just because it is easy. But it really gets to be monotonous after a while. Checking out a small local restaurant that you have never tried before is a great way to bring some exciting change to your routine.

One easy way to try new foods while supporting local small businesses is to go wherever food trucks gather in your city or town. For those living in larger centres, there are often apps or websites to help you find the right food truck for your tastes.

Next time that friend comes to visit from out of town, you can take them to this cool local place you discovered rather than the same old stuff they can get literally anywhere else.

A food truck in Alberta (Source: Kurt Bauschardt, WikiCommons)

Show some Western solidarity

Buying local is about more than dollars and cents. It is also about developing a community consciousness. Every time you open your wallet, I want you to think, “Is this good for Western Canada?” If it’s not – see if you can put your wallet away and save it for a better time. We in the West must develop that level of dedication to our own interests if we ever expect to stand up for ourselves in a world that seems to be actively working against our economic interests.

Anyone who has seen those “I Heart Alberta Beef” bumper stickers can appreciate that it is not just about goods and services. It’s an act of Western solidarity. It’s a meaningful statement that transcends political boundaries. Whatever our politics, we all share the West as our home and we all want our local economies to thrive. In a previous article, I wrote about how Western Canadians have a long history of helping each other out when times get tough. Making more conscientious decisions with our purchasing power is just another small step in that direction.

To support local Western Canadian businesses is a small decision that may not seem like much at first. But with time, every one of those small decisions will begin to add up and make a real difference for those small businesses that are struggling. This New Year, let’s resolve to support Western Canadian interests on a day-to-day basis in any way we can. Voting with your dollars is a great place to start.

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