The UCP Addresses Conversion Therapy…”in due course”

By a strange coincidence Ru Paul’s Drag Race Season 11 came to town the same week that Premier Kenney and his Health Minister, Tyler Shandro, explained (sort of) the UCP government’s position on conversion therapy.

Ms Soapbox and her daughters had tickets to the Ru Paul show and were delighted by the drag queens’ performance, the highlight was the Canadian drag queen, Brook Lynn Hytes, upstaging Miss Vanjie, but Ms Soapbox couldn’t shake the memory of a contestant from last season, Dusty Rae Bottoms, describing the devastating consequences of being subjected to conversion therapy and exorcism.

IMG_6753 edited

Ru Paul’s Drag Race drag queens strut their stuff at the Calgary Jubilee Auditorium 

Conversion therapy is a practice aimed at altering a person’s sexual orientation.  The UCP government’s position on the practice is incoherent.

Um, well, er…

This lack of clarity became evident when reporters asked Minister Shandro whether he was disbanding or not disbanding the NDP committee set up to look into ways of banning conversion therapy.  Mr Shandro’s response was he’d met with members of the committee and a member of the committee “had some questions for me and I look forward to getting back to her in due course”.

When pressed for specifics about the timeline for getting back to the committee Mr Shandro repeated what he’d just said (see above) including the phrase “in due course” about nine times.

When asked what he meant by “in due course” he cast his eyes upward (clearly forgetting what we all learned in high school, the answer isn’t written on the ceiling) and replied in Yoda-speak, “…that in due course I will be getting back to them to be able to answer their questions”.  Deer in the headlights, caught he is. 

It fell to Ms Notley to try to clarify the government’s position in Question Period.  She asked Mr Kenney whether the ad hoc group still existed and whether it would be allowed to carry on its work.

Mr Kenney told the Legislature that “this government opposes abusive or coercive practices such as conversion therapy” and spent the rest of his time berating the NDP for not banning the practice when they were in office, using righteous indignation to hide the fact that he was not prepared to ban the practice himself.

Human rights  

What’s wrong with these people?

Mr Kenney likes to present himself as the 21st century version of Peter Lougheed, protecting Alberta from all who attack her.  He could live up to Lougheed’s legacy by focusing on Lougheed’s legislative record.

The first thing Peter Lougheed did upon forming government was repeal The Sexual Sterilization Act because it offended basic human rights.  The parallel is obvious.  Mr Kenney should have told Ms Notley that he’ll allow the ad hoc committee to finish its work and will pass legislation by the end of 2019 banning the practice he himself describes as “abusive” and “coercive”.

Cat got your tongue?

Mr Shandro has a more difficult problem.  Mr Shandro is a lawyer.  Lawyers are known for the gift of the gab.

Mr Shandro demonstrated this gift in an article he wrote for Policy Options in 2015 where he discussed the importance of the federal Conservative party attracting immigrant voters in the 2019 federal election.

He used impressive words like “proselytizing” and “hegemony”.  He praised Kenney’s “tireless missionary-like zeal” in courting new Canadians and trashed Kenney’s successor, the “hapless” Chris Alexander for creating a situation that led to Harper’s demise through an ill-conceived campaign that focused on the niqab ban, the barbaric cultural practices snitch line, differentiating between “new” stock and “old” stock Canadians and “Harper’s eleventh-hour embrace of racist Rob Ford”.

Based on Mr Shandro’s performance this week it would appear that a politician appointed by Mr Kenney to a cabinet post must not only forget any moral objections he once had to his boss embracing the “racist Rob Ford” but also give up his right to think and speak for himself.

In return for performing like a trained seal Mr Kenney will provide him with all the talking points he needs.

At this point on Ru Paul’s Drag Race Ru Paul would say “the time has come for Mr Sandro to lip sync for his life.  Good luck and don’t f*ck it up.”

To help Mr Sandro prepare for his new role, Ms Soapbox would like to offer him a ticket to the Ru Paul show.  I’m sure he’ll RSVP in due course.

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13 Responses to The UCP Addresses Conversion Therapy…”in due course”

  1. Jerrymacgp says:

    The most charitable comment one could make about Mr Shandro’s performance would be, that he was not well served by his Comms staff and needs remedial media training. On the other hand, perhaps he truly believes that conversion therapy is a legitimate “service” and has no intention of banning or restricting it in any way, which is far more problematic.

    When I listened to the Edmonton Journal’s Press Gallery podcast this week, one of the panel compared it to the famous—or infamous—“can’t you see I’m eating my cookie” incident that led to the departure of Dr Stephen Duckett from his then post as CEO of Alberta Health Services.

    • Jerry, I hope it’s just a case of a newbie cabinet minister freezing in front of the camera, but it worries me that someone who once described Rob Ford as a racist had no qualms running for Jason Kenney who proudly proclaimed he and Ford were so close they finished each other’s sentences. Actually I take that back, Shandro’s article in Policy Options goes to great lengths to separate Harper from the vile elements of his campaign (these were supposedly the result of Harper being led down the garden path by the “hapless” Alexander). Many conservatives (and Trump Republicans) have the remarkable ability of giving their leader full credit when he does something they like and blaming anyone but the leader when he does something they don’t like.

  2. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. Jason Kenney is not like Peter Lougheed in any way. If Peter Lougheed were still around today, he would not have good words to say about Jason Kenney. The neo Stalinist comments come to mind. Peter Lougheed got rid of the Social Credit Party’s bad policies. He cared about basic human rights, and all Albertans. It was not a cheap election ploy. I recall Ralph Klein getting a big backlash after thinking he could prevent victims of forced sterilization from being compensated for their ordeal. Things went downhill in Alberta with the Alberta PCs, after Peter Lougheed was not the premier. Jason Kenney appears to be going the same way. I suspect it will backfire. Those who voted for the UCP will eventually come to their senses. The policies of Jason Kenney are full of holes, and the R.C.M.P investigation will not help him.either.
    It’s been around a year since my Twitter account got knackered, so I have not been able to see anything about Jason Kenney from that platform. I’m sure there are interesting comments about Jason Kenney on there.

  3. Dwayne says:

    *help him either.

    • Dwayne, I sincerely hope you’re right when you say those who voted for the UCP will eventually come to their senses. I still don’t understand how Albertans came to believe they were being victimized by the NDP, by Trudeau, by BC and by Quebec when the only thing victimizing us was our own stupidity in putting all our eggs in one basket and expecting the boom to last forever. It’s as if we believed it would be rainbows and unicorns forever. It’s time for Albertans to grow up.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: I agree with you. Peter Lougheed despised the Reform Party, because it reminded hm of the Social Credit Party he defeated.

  4. What is there to discuss in due course? When did we slip back into the stone age? Conversion therapy is disgusting. I can’t say anymore because Im so appalled by the idea.

    • I agree JCV. Kenney could have nipped this in the bud by giving Mr Shandro a one line talking point, namely: “It’s an abusive and coercive practice and we are enacting legislation to put a stop to it once and for all.” But Kenney didn’t do it, can’t risk offending that part of his base that still believes the Charter of Rights doesn’t extend to members of the LBGTQ community, I guess.
      The whole thing is horrible, people struggling to understand and accept who they are are pushed into conversion therapy which tears them to shreds and often leaves them with lifelong mental health issues, when all they want is to love and be loved like everyone else.

  5. Dave says:

    Maybe its just me, but I got the feeling “in due course” in this case was political speak for “we just hope this issue eventually goes away, so we never have to deal with it”.

    The UCP seems to have a list of things it is quite eager to deal with quickly in its summer of repeal, like corporate tax cuts. I don’t think anything related to human rights is anywhere on that list.

    In due course, the UCP’s priorities will become clear to everyone, if they aren’t already.

    • Dave, I agree with you. The expression “in due course” is similar to other legal phrases like “with all due respect” which means “you’re an idiot” and “we’ll take it under advisement” which means “never in a million years”. Lawyers and politicians are very skilled at saying the exact opposite of what they really mean.

  6. Carlos Beca says:

    I was debating if I wanted to make a comment about this issue not because of the conversion therapy which I always thought crazy but because I do not like the way this whole subject of gay people is developing. I think that people have the same rights regardless of what they are and should be treated equally but I am afraid I am starting to wonder how, especially gay men, are being used for disrespectful entertainment. I can detect this has the beginning of what has happened to women before. I personally do not care for the Ru Paul’s program and I sense that some of these men have serious psychological problems due to their tendency to want to be women. I know that people tell me that they are just having fun and some of them are not even gay but I doubt it. I remember the days when we were told that women in porn were there because they enjoyed it and that was not entirely true as we all know. So I just want to say that I am concerned that people are now making money on men that are probably (many of them anyway) dealing with serious problems with their families and even with themselves. I seriously do not like anyone to be exploited regardless of their sexuality. It seems that the strong general reaction against patriarchy, is now finding new ways of entertainment and crossing the line to the other side. I may be wrong and I hope I am. In the meantime I am not supporting this kind of entertainment. Neither of the hosts give me any feeling of trust or decency. The whole celebrity concept oozes out of that program. I watched a couple that my family had on and that Carrera actress even made a comment that I would love a strap on when make a comment about one of the contestants. Not sure in what way this is interesting. I wonder what would happen if a man made a comment of the same type towards a woman contestant.

    • Thank you for your comment Carlos, I wanted this post to carry three messages:(1) conversion therapy is still being practiced in Alberta, (I just learned AHS received over 250 complaints about it since 2015), (2) Kenney is being hypocritical when he says it’s coercive and his government doesn’t support it but then refuses to do anything about it, and (3) Shandro is a sell-out who called Rob Ford a racist but has no trouble working for Kenney who is so close to Ford that they finish each others’ sentences.
      I mentioned the Ru Paul show because it is supported by the gay community and forces the straight community to think about issues they’re not used to thinking about. Having said that I understand your concern that while it communicates that it is OK to come out of the closet (and yes sometimes it does so in what some would consider bad taste) it may, under certain circumstances, be exploitative. I’ll need to think about that aspect a little longer.
      Thanks Carlos.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I will be very interested in your opinion and of course of anyone else reading and that have an opinion. Wonderful to be able to discuss issues with people that care and learn from it.

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