OTTAWA -- Conservative leadership candidate and MP Derek Sloan is accusing the Liberals and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “effectively putting into law child abuse” in relation to their policies on gender identity and conversion therapy.

In a videoconference webinar he held with supporters on Tuesday night, Sloan took questions from participants on a range of issues, from his position on the drug hydroxychloroquine and gun rights, to his views on abortion, conversion therapy and transgender rights.

When asked about how he would respond to people on the election trail that might call him transphobic or who might accuse him of making life harder for trans people given his past comments, Sloan said that he supports all Canadians, but said he would be doing a disservice to people if he allowed children with gender dysphoria to only have the option to proceed with life changing surgeries.

Sloan then went on to outline his position on these issues, including stating he would ban gender-affirming surgeries—what he called “sex change operations” for people under the age of 18, and allow for counselling “to deal with these issues.”

“The Liberals have said ‘no, you can’t get counselling and if a parent, as a parent you take your kid to get counselling for this, you can go to jail for five years.’ That’s insane, that’s ridiculous. But on the other hand you're allowed to put your kid on these you know, invasive medical regimes, you’re allowed to you know, give them these puberty blockers, you're allowed to literally cut off their healthy you know, breasts and other sex organs. That is child abuse. And I accuse Justin Trudeau and his government right now, of child abuse, that's what they're putting into law,” Sloan said.

“And we need to wake up, and I'm telling you there's not a single person I know whether they're Conservative, Liberal, whatever, that agrees with that policy, we can win on this issue, and we will win on this issue.”

Following this comment, the moderator moved on to the next question.

Asked by on Wednesday for comment on his remarks, Sloan restated his position.

“With Bill C-8, the Liberals are effectively putting into law child abuse,” Sloan said in a statement.

“Bill C-8 encourages sex change operations on minors because it says the only thing you can do for your child is either nothing, or to put them on a path to a surgical sex change. If a child needs counseling and the government blocks the parents with the threat of jail for getting counseling that is abuse. To deny the option for counseling, to promote life-changing experimental operations on children that will render them permanently sterile, and to separate a parent and a child over it is child abuse,” he said.


Sloan's remarks have prompted Trudeau's office to call for the Conservative Party and outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer to condemn Sloan’s comments.

Asked for comment on Sloan’s allegation, Trudeau’s Communications Director Cameron Ahmad told CTV News that the PMO “will not dignify these reprehensible comments but we certainly hope that Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party will roundly condemn what their caucus member and leadership candidate has said.”

“Conversion therapy is a discredited, degrading, deeply harmful practice that has damaged countless lives and has absolutely no place in Canadian society. Banning it is an important part of our work to advance true equality and protect all Canadians,” said Ahmad in a statement.

CTV News has reached out to Scheer’s office as well as the Conservative Party for comment.

Responding to Sloan’s comments, fellow Conservative leadership candidate and former Tory cabinet minister Peter MacKay said that Sloan’s remarks were “reprehensible.”

“Forcing a child into ‘conversion therapy’ is child abuse and it absolutely must be banned,” MacKay tweeted.


The bill Sloan is referencing, does not make it a crime for parents to take their child to conventional therapy or pursue other treatments or services related to a gender transition or exploration of their identity. Specifically, the government is looking to stop adults from “causing” a minor to undergo conversion therapy or causing a person of any age to undergo these forms of counselling against their will.

Currently in Canada, for trans people who want to change their anatomical sex to better match their gender identity, letters of recommendation are required from a psychiatrist, psychologist or other health professionals. 

The 11-page bill proposes five new Criminal Code offences, but leaves the door open to allowing adults who willingly want to pursue what has also been called reparative therapy, to seek that assistance. But that remains possible only under limited circumstances. Based on the proposed changes the government has put forward, the maximum punishment would be five years in prison for some offences, and up to two years in prison for others. 

Conversion therapy in the legislation is defined as: “A practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender, or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour.”

The legislation was tabled just two days before the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic and so it has become stalled at second reading as the House of Commons has almost entirely been suspended the last few months to focus on the nationwide public health crisis and federal response measures.

Several health and human rights groups including the World Health Organization have discredited and disparaged the practice of conversion therapy. In 2012, the Pan American Health Organization said that these conversion programs "lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people."

Sloan is one of four verified candidates in the running to replace Scheer as the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. He was elected as the MP for Hastings-Lennox and Addington, Ont. in the 2019 federal election.

Over the course of the campaign Sloan has been vocal in his support for socially conservative views, including stating that he believes the "cause of sexual orientation" is "scientifically unclear."

In order to have made it on to the ballot, all candidates had to raise $200,000, put forward an additional $100,000 as a compliance fee, and gather 3,000 signatures from members.