The House of Commons has unanimously approved a Conservative Party motion to fast track legislation banning conversion therapy.
The unexpected move on Wednesday, which resulted in cheers and applause among MPs, means that the legislation introduced by the government for a third time earlier this week goes, without being examined by committee, to the Senate for approval.
It also heads off the prospect of a divisive debate on Bill C-4 among Conservatives about how to deal with the legislation around the widely discredited therapy intended to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
At a third reading of the previous bill in June, 62 Conservative MPs voted against it. Party Leader Erin O’Toole was among 51 Conservatives who voted in favour.
Hours before Conservative MP Rob Moore moved the motion to pass the bill at all stages, Mr. O’Toole told journalists outside a caucus meeting that the party would accelerate passage of the new bill.
“There’s many ways for us to accelerate passage of this legislation,” he said.
Mr. O’Toole, a self-described long-time ally of the LGBTQ2 community, said that the caucus had had a “good discussion” on the issue, but did not elaborate.
Following the passage of the motion, Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, who is gay, said Wednesday’s development was a sign of progress in Canada and exemplifies what happens when Parliament works.
“I think political people in this country do not want to be on the record any more opposing LGBTQ2 issues because they are fundamental human rights,” he said.
Justice Minister David Lametti said there were members of the Conservative caucus to be thanked.
“There are clearly people in the Conservative caucus who exercised a great deal of leadership on the issue, and I thank them,” he said. “They have done a very important thing for Canadians. This is what we can do when Parliament works together.”
He said he now hopes that the bill can be expedited through the Senate.
In a tweet, he said, “I want to thank all elected members for choosing the right side of history.”
Gérard Deltell, the Conservative House Leader, declined to disclose the dynamics of caucus discussions on the issue. He noted that no Conservative has been in favour of conversion therapy, but there were concerns in the past about the legislative options to deal with it.
He said Mr. Moore had previously done good work addressing the issue. “He tabled a motion to put the bill where it was six months ago before the Prime Minister called the unnecessary election,” he said.
“It’s in the hands of the Senate, which is exactly what could have been done six months ago.”
Mark Holland, the Government House leader, noted there is “enormous power” in the Commons when members speak with a unanimous voice on an issue.
“When you take that time to work with one another you can get results like what we see today, and I think that’s possible in other aspects,” said Mr. Holland.
Earlier this week, the Liberal government reintroduced a bill banning conversion therapy. The legislation was wider reaching than a previous version. It was intended to ban the practice entirely for children and adults. Before, the proposed legislation left open the possibility that an adult could consent to conversion therapy. The new bill closes that loophole.
The bill was first introduced in March, 2020, but died on the order paper when the government prorogued Parliament later that year. It was reintroduced not long after that and died when Parliament dissolved ahead of the federal election.
For subscribers: Get exclusive political news and analysis by signing up for the Politics Briefing.