Week of February 25

MP Gladu clarifies position on conversion therapy bill

Sir: There has been a lot of misinformation circulating regarding the conversion therapy bill, Bill C-6.

Let me be clear: I am strongly opposed to conversion therapy, as is every single person who has contacted my office. That is not the problem with this Bill. The issue is the overly broad definition of conversion therapy, which will criminalize behaviours that are NOT conversion therapy.

Catholic school boards across the country, as well as members of the Catholic Diocese, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), and many legal groups representing over 14 million Canadians, have expressed concern about this Bill and are calling on the government to amend the definition.

Here locally, Catholics and churches aligning with the EFC view represent nearly half of the population (reference: Wikipedia, areascore.ca, Sarnia Evangelical Fellowship).

In terms of the definition of conversion therapy, other pieces of legislation use the definition put forward by the medical profession— the Canadian Psychiatrist Association and the Canadian Psychological Association. These would be acceptable to all.

The Liberals recognized there was an issue with the definition, and put a clarification on the Justice Department webpage. Unfortunately, judges have to rule by what is in the Bill, not what is on the government’s webpage. The Liberals have refused so far to amend the definition as requested.

I am working toward a bill that will criminalize conversion therapy while protecting the rights of freedom of belief and speech for all Canadians. Best regards,

Marilyn Gladu

MP Sarnia-Lambton


MP didn’t contact our church about conversion therapy petition

Sir: On Dec. 9 Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu presented a petition in the House of Commons calling Bill C-6, which would ban conversion therapy in Canada, “an attack on freedom of religion and the ability to speak it in the public square.”

Ms. Gladu began by stating that most of the 91 churches in her area supported her petition around making modifications or even dropping Bill C-6.

The Unitarian Fellowship of Sarnia and Port Huron did not receive a copy of this petition from Ms. Gladu’s office and would have declined to sign it if it had been received.

Our Fellowship is very concerned for those who identify as LGBTQ and who make their first tentative steps to share their identity with members of their family, friends, and faith community.

At that time, there needs to be listening and affirmation and not so-called counselling or advice in the name of religion.

Conversion therapy is a harmful intervention that lacks credible research and has been widely denounced. It is banned in a growing number of countries. Canada should pass this Bill immediately to protect vulnerable young people.

Dwayne O’Neill

President

Unitarian Fellowship of Sarnia & Port Huron


Conversion therapy a destructive sham that should be banned

Sir: We are writing to express our utter dismay, total disbelief and profound disagreement with Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu and her stand on Bill C-6.

Medical and human rights organizations across the world have documented, through studies, the devastating effects of so-called conversion therapy on individuals and denounced the practice.

Our MP’s call to amend or withdraw Bill C-6 is shameful and reflects poorly on Sarnia-Lambton, making us look like a back- woods, ultra right wing, bigoted community.

Homosexuality is a biological imperative and conversion therapy is a destructive sham that should be banned. Sincerely,

Sandra & Dean de Jong

Plympton-Wyoming


There are valid reasons to oppose Bill C-6

Sir: The Sarnia Journal has published an incredibly biased article about MP Marilyn Gladu (Feb. 11 edition).

In reading the article I came across no information that warranted the attack on MP Gladu. What was noticeably absent was an examination of the ramifications of Bill C-6.

Many women, myself included, are opposed to Bill C-6, which conflates sexual orientation and “gender identity,” two separate topics requiring different legal treatment.

In this bill ‘conversion therapy’ is vaguely defined and overreaches established safeguarding principles by criminalizing therapies offered by medical professionals and normal conversations between children and parents, counsellors, caregivers and educators. It validates and supports the impossible notion that a child can be born in the wrong body.

Moreover, attempting to modify children’s healthy bodies to make them appear as the opposite sex leads to lifelong medical interventions.

As a retired court interpreter, atheist, left-wing voter, supporter of gays and lesbians, as well as an opponent of conversion therapy I—and many women I know—oppose Bill C-6 because there are valid reasons to oppose it.

Alline Cormier

Edmonton, Alberta


Over-wrapped grocery order in need of plastic surgery

Sir: My wife and I recently bought groceries at a local store where you can pre-order and they will load them into your car at the agreed time.

It’s a great system for avoiding the risk of COVID-19, but it has one major problem. When we got home we found that our groceries had been packed in no less than 22 single-use plastic bags, plus an additional seven of the thin produce bags.

Among our groceries were two red peppers, each wrapped in separate produce bags and together being the only contents of a plastic grocery bag.

We may be doing things differently during the pandemic, but surely we can do better than that. Sincerely.

Peter R. Smith

Sarnia


Vaccine priority list should target exposed workers

Sir: The Lambton Medical Officer of Health has set out the categories of persons who will receive the vaccine in Phase 1, but the list does not include all frontline workers exposed to possible infection by their employment.

In this regard, I am thinking of the workers in grocery stores, bus and cab drivers, the gas station attendants, liquor and beer store employees, and many others like them.

They are the ones keeping society going while healthy seniors like me are able to isolate and stay safe.

In my opinion, the criteria to get vaccinated should be more than just a person’s age. It should take into account how needed the person is to keep things running smoothly.

Peter Westfall

Sarnia


Why did council ask for, then ignore voting recommendation?

Sir: Sarnia made a switch to online-only voting for the 2018 municipal election with no public consultation, which caused a huge outcry from people asking why they did not have a say.

This led the current council to agree there was a need for public consultation and an ad hoc committee to study the 2018 election and make recommendations. I am a member of this committee and took this direction very seriously.

More than 460 Sarnians completed a survey that asked how they would prefer to vote in 2022.

The response was better than average for a City Hall survey and reflected the level of community interest. About half the respondents favoured in-person ballot voting and the other half liked Internet voting.

The committee looked at these results, other feedback from the community, and information from staff. We felt the increase in voter turnout in 2018 meant online voting had to stay an option, but noted more than half the survey respondents wanted the paper ballot option.

The hybrid solution was the best solution for everyone. We didn’t want to portray that one group of people’s opinions was of more value than the others, and we certainly didn’t want anyone feeling disenfranchised.

When this council came to office in 2018 one of the first things it did was start setting extra money aside for the 2022 municipal election in preparation for a hybrid method. Yes, they knew a hybrid method would be more expensive than just online or just paper-ballot voting.

Why did Sarnia City Council seek public consultation and recommendations from this committee if they were not going to follow it?

Why is it so important for several councillors to eliminate paper-ballot voting?

I remember five councillors from the previous council that are no longer on council because they did not listen to the voice of the people.

I encourage anyone who feels strongly about this subject to write or call your city councillors and explain why it is important to you. Sincerely,

Michelle Parks

Sarnia


Tax freezes popular but shortsighted, says former politician

Sir: I have received my property tax bills and to avoid a 15% annual penalty I will make payment this month. (15% at 1.25% a month is high, when rates are about 2% annually).

My municipality (Petrolia) is proposing a 0% tax increase. To the effect of zero.

Zero is great for councillors to get re-elected, but not good for the community. Politicians generally want to create a better community but can’t achieve that if they don’t get re-elected, so they promise lower taxes.

As a former Mayor, Councillor, Deputy Reeve and County Councillor, I got caught up in that thinking when first elected, but came to realize it was not the best for my community.

In the 1990s, Petrolia enjoyed zero tax increases and politicians wallowed in the accomplishment. But infrastructure suffered enormously. When the time came to repair and replace the deferred work, higher taxes were needed catch up to what should have already been done.

Short-term gain for long-term pain.

A 0% increase is actually a 2% decrease, with inflation. A municipality is a non-profit organization providing services to ratepayers. Some services cannot break even and require continuous funds (taxes) to remain in good working condition. In Petrolia, that’s about $1,000 for every man, woman and child.

Municipalities must employ sound business practices, including long-term financial planning, road studies, and asset and risk management.

Staff is a municipality’s most valuable asset. Staff knowledge, motivation and skills maintain our community.

Taxpayers are more receptive to small annual increases than to one huge increase later.

Property reassessment is on hold and the day is coming for new reassessments. Homes have increased in value by 50% since 2016, the last reassessment year. Our increased annual reassessment is a bonus ($125,000 in 2021) to the town. Reassessments in 2022 could bring a large town windfall.

Managing a municipal corporation isn’t just about low taxes. It’s about intelligent and efficient operations that serve the taxpayer. Zero may be the popular thing to do, but we will eventually pay catch-up.

John McCharles

Petrolia


Sarnia Police needs more officers and street patrols

Sir: People need to come together and say, “Enough is enough.”

People are getting robbed, beaten and murdered and they aren’t feeling safe, even in their own homes.

We need to get these drugs off the street. No more slap on wrist; we need to put them in jail with the big boys in the pen.

Sarnia Police needs to have more officers patrolling the streets. Instead of giving money away, we need to hire more officers.

I hear people say that they hate this city and that it’s time to move, but it’s happening no matter where you go.

We already had four murders in one month this year. Let’s band together and ask the government to hire more police officers so they can help more at night and make people feel safe.

Debra Mills

Sarnia 


Good neighbours came through after snowstorm

Sir: We would like to thank our neighbours for helping out during the recent snow bonanza.

We were housebound and didn’t know if we would make it to a physiotherapy appointment.

So it was a relief to hear the rumble of a snow blower and see a neighbour tackling the driveway. Good Samaritan number two was the city worker who not only cleared the public sidewalk, but gathered up the contents of our blue boxes scattered when the road plough went by.

We will try to “play it forward” somehow in the future.

David & Sandra Elliott

Sarnia