Photo: Sean Kilpatrick The Canadian Press “We should protect children and their ability to make adult decisions when they become adults,” Pierre Poilievre said Wednesday. When asked specifically if he opposed the use of puberty blockers in young people of all genders under the age of 18, he responded “yes.”
Stephanie Taylor – The Canadian Press in Ottawa
February 7, 2024
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre clarified Wednesday that he is against the use of “puberty blockers” in children.
Justin Trudeau immediately went on the attack, saying the Conservative leader wanted the government to take away the rights of parents and children. The Prime Minister also added that transgender children are much more likely to attempt suicide, and that governments should not propose to take away these treatment options.
Mr. Trudeau took aim not only at the Conservative leader, but also at Alberta Conservative Premier Danielle Smith, who last week announced her government's intention to ban puberty blockers and hormone therapy for transgender children aged 15 and under who have not yet started their treatments.
“That Mr. Poilievre supports this kind of interference in the rights of parents and the rights of children, to make good choices for them with the medical community, demonstrates their ideological aggressiveness,” argued Mr. Trudeau in response to journalists. “Our government will always be there to defend the rights” of parents and young people, he said.
Hormonal inhibitors, or “puberty blockers,” are used to prevent the body from producing sex hormones that influence the development of the male or female body.
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The Alberta Medical Association has expressed concerns about Smith's proposals, saying trans and gender diverse youth who do not have access to such treatments face increased risk of depression and suicide.
Premier Smith also proposes requiring parental consent for children aged 15 and under to have a different name or pronoun at school. Teenagers aged 16 or 17 could make such changes without permission, but schools should notify their parents or guardians.
The proposals sparked protests in Alberta and Ottawa and drew condemnation from Liberal politicians, including the Prime Minister, who accused Smith of pushing an anti-LGBTQ agenda.+.
Danielle Smith's announcement last week also prompted reporters to ask Mr. Poilievre his position on gender-affirming medical treatments for young people.
When asked specifically Wednesday morning whether he opposed the use of puberty blockers in young people of all genders under the age of 18, he replied, “ yes.”
“We should protect children and their ability to make adult decisions as adults,” said the Conservative leader.
The announcement sparked protests in Alberta and Ottawa, and prompted condemnation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who accused Ms. Smith of promoting an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda.
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In this case, Mr. Poilievre has been repeating for several months that he supports the right of parents to raise their children as they wish. He also urges Prime Minister Trudeau not to interfere in provincial decisions regarding schools and hospitals.
On Tuesday, he accused the Prime Minister of attacking families “who are trying to protect their children.” He felt that Mr. Trudeau “will eventually back down on this.”
“I think we should protect the rights of parents to make their own decisions about their children and I believe it should be up to adults to make whatever decisions they want about their bodies. »
Liberal Minister Randy Boissonnault, an openly gay MP who represents a riding in Edmonton, Alberta, stopped by reporters before the party's weekly caucus meeting Wednesday morning in Ottawa to make fun of Mr. Poilievre's position.
Mr. Boissonnault argued that the decision to use puberty blockers should be based on a conversation between a young person and their doctor. “I don’t see “M.D.” after the name of Pierre Poilievre or Danielle Smith, he said. So, it's none of their business. »
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh had much the same reaction, saying health care decisions should involve an individual and their doctor. Decisions “based on evidence, based on science, based on best practices and not on the opinion of Pierre Poilievre,” Singh said. “We see a Pierre Poilievre who spends time attacking vulnerable communities. »
Pressure for months
Since becoming leader, Mr. Poilievre has attempted to focus Conservative efforts on the cost of living and crime issues, which the party views as winning messages among the electorate.
Some of his supporters, however, urged him to go further in the debate on how schools address issues of gender diversity and sexual orientation among their students.
During last September's political convention in Quebec, activists adopted 70% of a resolution asking a possible Conservative government to ban “medical or surgical interventions” for children trans and gender diverse.
Mr. Poilievre has never clarified whether he agrees with the proposal from his activist base or whether he plans to include it in a future Conservative election platform.
If you are thinking about suicide or worried about a loved one, support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Quebec residents can reach the Center suicide prevention at 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553).
Elsewhere in Canada, 24/7 support can be found by texting 988, the national suicide prevention hotline.