A Bill C-4 Primer

Bill C-4, the broadly-defined ‘conversion therapy’ ban, came into law over the weekend. The unanimous and unprecedented approval of it in Canada rightfully draws attention from some of our more faithful neighbours to the south.

  1. Dr. Jared Longshore, author (10 mn), gives a solid overview of the state of affairs, as well as the problematic wording of the Bill almost certainly guaranteeing criminal charges for faithful, godly pastors and counsellors:

2. Next we have Tom Ascol, over at Founders Ministries (this one’s 42 minutes long, be warned), interviewing the Liberty Coalition of Canada on this Bill, its poor definitions, and its ramifications:

If just ONE MP had stood up, the Bill would have had to pass regular legislative debate and approval processes. Three members of the Conservative Party of Canada have since expressed regret or attempted explanations as to why the Bill passed without their opposition:

  1. Arnold Viersen, Peace River – Westlock, Alberta (Conservative MP clarifies his stance on “conversion therapy” ban | The Bridgehead) More on him below.

2. Cathay Wagantall, Yorkton – Melville, Saskatchewan (Second Conservative MP clarifies stance on unanimous vote for “conversion therapy” ban | The Bridgehead)

3. Ted Falk, Provencher, Manitoba (Conservative MP explains what happened with unanimous Bill C-4 vote)

Let’s camp out for a bit on the Honourable Arnold Viersen. Not to excuse Ms. Cathay Wagantall or Mr. Ted Falk, but Mr. Viersen’s statement above should raise the most eyebrows. In it, he claims he was “caught off guard” (his words) about the 3rd and final reading of the Bill. He also claims, however, to have had enough notice to vote against it in both previous readings.

To be fair, we don’t have privy eyes able to peer into his schedule. But what an extremely odd – and hopefully not deceptive – statement from the MP who wasn’t caught off guard a mere 24 hours after AHS erected the now-notorious fence around GraceLife Church, appearing live on CrossPolitic’s broadcast to discuss said fence and defend Jason Kenney’s reputation. Just one day, despite being neither a lawyer, nor clergy, nor healthcare professional, nor a provincial MLA, nor even the federal MP for the riding where GraceLife Church resides.

He does, however, chair the federal pro-life caucus (please, hold your applause), and seems to know our Premier well.

Perhaps with his statement, Mr. Viersen banked on our forgetting the crucial moment he waffled back and forth over whether the measures taken against GraceLife last year were just, until Shannon (a.k.a. Knox), Rench, and Sumpter finally called him on it and he implied by his silence, they were? (See minutes 27 through 39 below):

Note: Forgive the lengthy transcript; in reading or listening, the cringeworthy exchange suggests perhaps either a lack of Biblical literacy or clarity on Viersen’s part, intimidation, or a reluctance to speak authoritatively about church matters in public. The moment of silence in question comes after being asked if James Coates helped the cause of Christian liberty in Canada, and betrays his true feelings about the matter. Either way, let’s hope faithful voters and MPs, if there are any, pay attention; C-4 is now the second time he’s remained silent when he ought to speak up.

27:51 Viersen: “It looks more exciting, from my perspective, as well, to stand on the picket lines, essentially. ‘Fight, Laugh, Feast’ I see that in the corner of the screen here. The fight of it… I like the fight of it. My point is, I’m happy to fight if we’re going to achieve an end-“

28:15 Knox: “Ever read Hebrews? Some had victory, and some die in battle, but the end is always the truth, standing on the what God has said to do. I guess as I’m listening to you… [Viersen tries to interrupt] I feel like if you were giving advice to Shadrach, Meschach, [and Abednego], I feel like you would say something like, ‘hey guys, you have it better than a whole lot of other people in Israel and Babylon. Go ahead, just eat the food, and we’ll figure out the strategy later.’ Versus saying, ‘even if it takes the fiery furnace, or the lion’s den’, you know?”

29:15 Viersen: “Sure, all of that’s correct. Ok, On the C0V1D, is it a pandemic?”

29:22 Knox/Sumpter: “No.”

29:24 Viersen: “In Alberta, it is. Right? Because we’ve deemed it to be a pandemic. The government is then mandating that 15% of the fire code is the thing. Then, is the freedom of worship being impeded? That’s the other big question, right. And that question I throw back to you guys…? Like what’s the freedom of worship… In my church situation, in 2015, we chopped our church in half because we were failing to meet the fire code. We were 600 people in a 500 capacity church building. Right? And so we made a decision back then to make a second church, we chopped our church in half, and now we worship as two separate churches of about 300 people each. And then when C0V1D came along, kind of the precedent had been set, like well when the fire code says we can’t meet, we chop the church in half. And now we meet with 150 people on Sunday morning. And that’s… so what is the freedom of worship? We still gather together as the body of Christ in a particular place, it just happens to be a smaller body of Christ in a particular place.”

30:52: Toby Sumpter: “But isn’t the prerogative to decide that with the elders of the church?”

30:58: Viersen: “100 percent.”

31:00 Knox: “What Bible verse is ‘fire code’?”

31:02 Sumpter: “And I don’t even mind saying that there can be some consideration of safety and health, obviously there can be some consideration of that, but that shouldn’t be the deciding factor or the only factor, because there might be situations where you’re over 100, but for the spiritual health of the people, it would would not be healthy; it would not be helpful to break it in half. I can see it working sometimes that way, sometimes not, because maybe you don’t have enough elders, enough deacons… The spiritual health of the church matters.”

31:37 Viersen: “But that’s the freedom of conscience piece, right?”

31:38 Sumpter: “Right.”

31:40 Viersen: “That’s a big challenge about it. So this is where I said to Gabe [Rench], I’m going to make everybody mad in every direction with this interview, because I can think that GraceLife is taking on a Premier who’s being stupid by being stupid.”

32:05 Sumpter: “Why is it stupid to meet for worship, using your freedom of conscience which you said they should just have? Why is that stupid?”

32:10 Viersen: “Well… the point being, it’s not… stupid’s probably the wrong word. The point being is that the Premier is violating their freedom of conscience, right, but the Premier… that’s why all of this gets conflated all of the time. So on one hand, my freedom to worship is important, and the freedom of conscience of Mr. Coates to gather his entire congregation together is important to me. The freedom of worship, that’s important to me. But it also is important to me that we have a semblance of Christian governance in this country, and we are working to achieve that, and we’ve got a major casualty in all of that right now going on. And you’re going to have to forgive me for that in that I’m a politician, I think in political ways. All of this kind of stuff, I’m trying to work to bring Christian principles to bear in the government world.”

33:21 Rench: “And Arnold, I get that, and I appreciate you. I feel like you’re a guy that I could learn to trust. Just from the outside, I don’t trust any politician til they win my trust, or prove their trust to me. So I see all that, but I also see… part of the vibe that I’m also getting is, well, I almost think that you might do the same thing [Jason] Kenney is doing now if you became Premier…? At least the way you’re arguing could set you up for not standing up-“

33:52 Viersen: “That’s my big worry, guys. That’s my big worry. Because I know Jason as a person, who he is, his values align with mine… he is doing this for a reason. What is the reason? He is the Premier of the Province, he has more briefings, he has more than I know… I worked extremely hard to get this guy-“

34:42 Rench: “And he’ll have a greater judgement, for sure… But after a year of him doing that, you have to say no, it’s evil, it’s wrong…”

35:00 Sumpter: “You can’t just keep rolling. Even if you knew him, even if you knew his marriage, you’d do everything to reach out to him. ‘Hey, brother, I helped you get elected, help me understand what you’re doing.’ If you’re not getting answers, even from your most trusted friends. I mean, Jesus said, in one of his most extreme statements, ‘If you do not hate your father and mother, your sister, your daughter, your son, your wife, your husband, then you’re not worthy to be my disciple.’ What I think he meant by that is ‘Your loyalty to me and the truth is going to sometimes look like you’re stabbing the closest people to you in the back’. If you’re faithful to Jesus. And at some point, when they’re putting fences around churches, when they’re arresting pastors, on stupid technicalities, I mean-“

37:07 Viersen: “The fences around the church is a ter-… that can’t happen in a free and democratic society.”

37:14 Sumpter: “Sure. I appreciate that.”

37:16 Viersen: “The arresting of a pastor…”

37:17 Sumpter: “On a technicality.”

37:18 Viersen: “Yeah, sure. Right, like. 100 percent, it’s a technicality. It’s dumb. If you’re going to ask me-“

37:36 Sumpter: “And trying to shame Canadians, trying to keep them home, trying to keep them in their place, trying to make them be afraid-“

37:40 Viersen: “Pick a side between a Premier and a pastor, I’ll pick the side of the pastor. For sure. The point is that we didn’t end up here in a vacuum. And I guess you could make the argument that if it wasn’t Mr. Coates it would be somebody else, and that’s a possibility. But the reality is that there were many other… the BC example is that there were many other churches who were extremely frustrated with all of this and were abiding by the 15% [capacity restriction] while also taking the government to court on it.”

38:28 Sumpter: “Which maybe is another tactic, but I guess the thing that I want to… I’m not going to throw shade on that necessarily, if that’s one play that one church wants to make. Ok, fine, do that if- Maybe that have good lawyers or it’s their way of pushing back. But I guess my point that I want to push back on you for on the tactical side of things would be a question of: do you think that James Coates helped his case by serving 35 days in jail?”

38:49 Viersen: “Helped his case?”

38:51 Sumpter: “Yeah. Helped the case of Christians in Canada?”

38:54 *pause*

38:59 Sumpter: “Did he make forward progress for Christian liberty?” *Another pause* “The answer is yes!”

39:02 Knox: “You know, this is like nailing Jell-O to a wall.

39:19 Sumpter: “But seriously, Arnold, I mean, this goes back to the Hebrews 11 thing that David [Shannon, a.k.a. Chocolate Knox] was talking about a minute ago. In Hebrews, people win sometimes by winning, but sometimes they win by what looks like losing, if it’s obedience to Christ, if it’s faithfulness to Christ. And what I want to say is, I wouldn’t know about your situation in Canada if James Coates hadn’t been faithful to spend 35 days away from his family and his church. Thousands of Christians around the world wouldn’t know where this thing was headed if James Coates hadn’t been a man of God and gone to jail for 35 days.”


TL;DR: if members of our Conservative Party – or any other party, for that matter – cannot or will not publicly uphold the values which give us hope, heal our hearts, build our legacies, make churches, and aid our sanctification – in this case, freedom of religion in the Charter (in this case, the cause of Christian worship and liberty) even in times of trouble – then they ought to step down or be removed and replaced with someone able and willing. It is that simple.

To paraphrase Doug Wilson, ungodly obedience now does not prepare us for godly resistance in the future. The Coates/Stephens (Reaume and others) fines and imprisonments of last year, sadly, seem to be only the prelude foreshadowing what’s next from our Canadian politicians and healthcare magistrates. The only question we need to ask ourselves is, are we prepared to face the main overture, once the drums and tuba and trumpets join in? (Might I suggest starting today with regular prayer, fasting, and time in the Word?)

Here are also some helpful links to read, explore, and consider:

The Niagara Declaration: https://www.niagaradeclaration.ca

The Liberty Coalition: https://www.libertycoalitioncanada.com

A Stand on Biblical Sexual Morality | John MacArthur: https://www.gracechurch.org/news/post…

To write your local MP: https://www.ourcommons.ca/en/contact-us

Join us on Sunday, January 16th at 10:30 am as we stand with faithful churches across North America to teach and discuss biblical sexual morality, the love of God, and the gift of Christian community.

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