Updated: Jul 5, 2021
After reflecting the thoughts of his constituents, who expressed their negative thoughts on forced conversion therapy but thought the definition of conversion therapy was too broad-based and required clarification, Fort McMurray-Cold Lake MP David Yurdiga faced flak from detractors in the media yesterday. Yurdiga was one of 61 Conservative MPs that voted against a bill that is set to criminalize conversion therapy. It passed the House with the support of other Conservatives (O'Toole included), the Liberals, the NDP and other parties.
Fort McMurray Today noted how Mitchel Bowers, president of Pride YMM, accused Yurdiga of not having reached out to the group on the subject of conversion therapy.
“We have never heard him speak on this issue. I’ve not been able to find one instance where he has vocally supported the 2SLGBTQ+ community,” said Bowers. “He never released a statement of support when the RMWB passed the conversion therapy ban. He’s never requested to be a part of our pride festivities and doesn’t seem to have any interest in 2SLBGTQ+ issues that I’ve seen.”
We at The Buffalo Tribune strongly oppose such attempts to tarnish the image of Mr. Yurdiga, who has always demonstrated his ability to be a parliamentarian that represents his constituents first and remains committed to their concerns over toeing the party line. We subsequently reached out to Yurdiga for his side of the story and additional clarification on his beliefs concerning conversion therapy.
"I have been clear, I am opposed to conversion therapy and attempts to forcibly change a person’s sexual orientation," the MP for Fort McMurray-Cold Lake began.
"From the beginning, the Conservatives advocated to ensure Bill C-6 properly bans those practices. The Trudeau Liberals waited over a year to move this bill to third reading, with it being wiped from the order paper due to prorogation to avoid scrutiny on the WE Scandal. It took the Liberals over five months after C-6 passed the Justice Committee to call it for a full day of debate.
At committee, Conservatives introduced an amendment that would better clarify the definition of conversion therapy in the bill to target coercive practices, based on language from the Justice Department’s own website. We heard from Canadians, including those from the medical community, who raised concerns about the broadness of the definition. Unfortunately, the Liberals ignored reasonable efforts to leave room for compassionate discussion inside families and religious communities. As society changes we must always ensure we protect the rights of parents and their children."
Over the last year, Yurdiga has also been proactive in representing Northern Albertans throughout the worst of the COVID pandemic. Amid silence from one provincial MLA concerning indigenous homelessness back in May in the Lac Le Biche area, the MP reiterated his support to resolving the problem. Yurdiga was one of the earliest voices to speak out against government overreach when Albertans were held in indefinite detention after flying back home due to COVID protocol.
Alongside much of the Conservative caucus, Yurdiga was equally an important voice in decrying the violations of freedom of expression that accompanied Bill C-10. Given the tremendous support for firearms ownership among law-abiding gun owners in his riding, Yurdiga was also one of the loudest voices in opposing the Liberal buyback program, standing with the NFA in producing a petition against the legislated theft of property from Canadian firearms owners.
Travis Gladue-Beauregard, Director of Operations at TBT, offered his own statement concerning Yurdiga's character.
"What makes David unique is something personal to me. With all this recent news about Indigenous burials coming to light, I thought back to 2018 when David recommended me to come testify on Bill C-391; a private bill concerning repatriation of human relations and property.
He's been a good ally of Indigenous people, opening the door for people like myself to testify. My great-grandfather was a chief of the Bigstone Cree Nation until he was sent to an Indian hospital, where he died. His body was never returned. When I told David about this story, he was very compassionate in his approach and made it a priority to find answers. Through Yurdiga's help, I was able to present this knowledge to a committee hearing in Ottawa.
What he did for me personally was amazing, but he's been proactive in opposing bigotry, for which he's even received harassment; for anyone to say David discriminates against any time of creed or orientation is absolutely bogus and untrue.
In knowing David professionally, I have to say that although he may not be a fancy-pants politician (nor will you find him on his Facebook live screaming at the camera), he believes in handling things together and collectively, pushing for results in all matters. He's not one for theatrics, but honest solutions. To me, this shows integrity and courage, and that's what leaders are made of."