Cloverdale-Langley City MP Tamara Jansen has come in for criticism after she used a Bible quote that included the word “unclean” while opposing a conversion therapy ban in the House of Commons Friday, April 16.
The debate on the third reading of Bill C-6 – aimed at banning coercive “therapy” for LGBTQ youths – began with a speech by Ontario Liberal MP Robert Oliphant.
“It is a bill that is deeply personal and incredibly important to me,” said Oliphant, one of only four openly gay serving MPs. “While I do not expect everyone to relate to this bill the way I do, I do expect every member in the House to truly wrestle with what it means for them to vote against this bill.”
During his speech he quoted from the Bible, from the Prophet Micah, saying “‘what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’”
Jansen was the first MP to respond, saying she was glad that Oliphant had invoked the Prophet Micah, noting that she was going to quote the Apostle Matthew, saying “‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.’”
Oliphant fired back immediately.
“Madam Speaker, the first thing I would say is that people like me are not unclean,” he said.
A United Church minister, he criticize her volleying back a quote.
“It is deeply offensive to play Bible baseball like that.”
He also noted something that was picked up by commenters on social media – Jansen pronounced the silent T in apostle.
Jansen was critical of some aspects of Bill C6, and told the story of “Charlotte,” a young woman in Calgary who was involved in “lesbian activity” and sought counselling “when she did not want to continue with her lesbian activity.”
“What we are about is ensuring the safety and security of everyone, including Charlotte and anybody who has doubts or concerns about their sexuality, but not to engage in conversion therapy,” Oliphant said in his response.
The Cloverdale-Langley City MP was also criticized by John Aldag, the former Liberal MP of the riding who has already announced he plans to run against her in the next federal election.
“Homophobic language and homophobic policy have no place in politics and no place in Cloverdale-Langley City,” Aldag wrote on Twitter. “We are better than this.”
Homophobic language and homophobic policy have no place in politics and no place in Cloverdale-Langley City. We are better than this. https://t.co/Deb4hPYYz8— John Aldag (@jwaldag) April 16, 2021
Jansen said she was quoting the statement as a warning against hypocrisy.
“Another Member of Parliament interpreted the remarks in a different manner, which wasn’t my intent,” Jansen said.
She has called Oliphant and apologized, and offered a public apology and clarification in the House, Jansen said in a statement.
“I think it is unfortunate that in the discussion around this event, my criticism of Bill C-6 has been entirely overlooked and misrepresented,” Jansen said.
She said she supports a ban on conversion therapy when it is “harmful, degrading, and coercive practices that seek to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity against their will.”
In the end, the bill passed with unanimous approval of the Liberal, NDP, Bloc Quebecois, and Green caucuses, and with the support of the vast majority of the Conservative caucus as well. Just seven MPs voted against the bill.
Jansen did not vote against the bill, but she abstained from voting due to her issues with the specific wording of the legislation.
Jansen has also been receiving criticism locally.
Several constituents contacted the Cloverdale Reporter to say they’ve reached out to Jansen, but said she’s not responding to them. Some have said she’s even blocking them on social media.
“Why is an elected official blocking her constituents from voicing their displeasure with how she represents us?” asked constituent Mark Yates. Yates said he was blocked on Instagram after trying to contact Jansen.
“I am one of hundreds of people who have been blocked from her page for simply voicing my displeasure with her using her religion to persecute others.”
—With files from Malin Jordan.
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