Stephen Woodworth faced criticism Friday in Question Period over a scheduled appearance at an event with Michel Lizotte, an activist known for encouraging gay people to choose a straight lifestyle.
Réjean Genest, The NDP MP for Shefford, Quebec, questioned why Woodworth, who was responsible for the recent motion calling for study on when life begins, will be appearing in his riding at an event organized by Campaign Life Quebec, an anti-abortion group, which will feature Lizotte.
"After having tried to re-open the debate on abortion, a Conservative MP is committing a second offence," Genest said in French. "He will be in my riding this weekend to participate in a Campaign Life Quebec event, with the organization Your Life, Your Choice (TVTC), which promotes a therapy for people 'with an undesired attraction toward people of the same sex.'"
Genest then asked if in addition to being against a woman's right to choose, Woodworth also believes "homosexuality is a disease that must be treated?"
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay rose to answer Genest's question under the mistaken impression that it related to Bill C-279, a piece of legislation which would give transgender people more protection under human rights law. Tory MP Rob Anders faced strong criticism this week after posting a petition suggesting the bill will allow transgender men to use women's bathrooms and put children in danger.
Since Findlay failed to grasp the point of the question, it is perhaps unsurprising that she gave a boiler-plate response. "Our government is proud of the fact that Canada is recognized internationally as a country that is deeply committed to the principles of respect for diversity and equality," Findlay said. "That private member's bill is currently before the justice committee. We should allow that committee to do its work, and we look forward to the report from that committee."
Woodworth will be appearing Saturday at a church in Sherbrooke, Quebec, along with Georges Buscemi, president of Campaign Life Quebec, Pastor Stéphane Gagné, a recently unsuccessful candidate for the Conservative Party of Quebec, Linda Couture, president of the Living with Dignity Network, Gitane Maltese a woman who became pregnant at age 15 as a result of rape and who chose to keep the child and Lizotte, the man behind Your Life, Your Choice.
The title of Lizotte's lecture? Sexual reorientation therapy — is it possible? Is it desirable?
Lizotte, who was trained as a journalist, has an extensive presence on the Internet.
The website for his organization presents this message on its homepage: "If your thoughts, attractions or homosexual behaviour conflict with your dreams, your life plan, your values or your spirituality, TVTC has a message for you: It's your life ... you make your choice!"
Woodworth's Motion 312, which many critics saw as an attempt to begin restricting abortion rights, was defeated in late September. Not, however, before 91 MPs voted in favour, 87 of whom were Conservative. 10 ministers were among those who voted for the motion, including Rona Ambrose, Jason Kenney, Peter Van Loan, Julian Fantino and Gerry Ritz.