Federal efforts to ban “conversion therapy” practices call for local government action. How can Ontario municipalities be part of the solution?

‘By: Douglas W. Judson, Kristopher Wells, Nicholas Schiavo, and Alicia Cooke’ [1]

*This is a 2021 Fall Semester Special Edition Blog Post*

New federal legislation to criminalize so-called “conversion therapy” holds promise as the most comprehensive Canadian legislative effort to date to ban these harmful practices. It is long overdue. Bill C-4 is the third incarnation of the Liberals’ longstanding promise. The Government’s announcement highlights the essential and strategic role of other levels of government in the effort to bring an end to conversion practices.[2]

It was encouraging to see Bill C-4 receive unprecedented unanimous support in both the House of Commons and the Senate. With Bill C-4 receiving Royal Assent, Canada has become one of only a handful of countries with national legislation criminalizing conversion therapy practices for all ages. Canada’s leadership will hopefully inspire other nations to protect their LGBTQ2S+ citizens from these harms and abuses.

In Canada, a handful of provincial and territorial governments, and an increasing number of western cities,[3] have become leaders and first-movers within their respective spheres of jurisdiction to prohibit conversion practices. But municipalities in Ontario (often at the front lines of Pride flag raisings, rainbow crosswalks, and other LGBTQ2S+ inclusion efforts) have been notable by their absence – at least so far. While some council members and city administrators may view municipal action as a merely symbolic, or ‘stop-gap,’ effort until federal and provincial/territorial legislation is enacted, there remains a meaningful place for municipal regulation in the ongoing fight against conversion practices.

In this article, we briefly review the current landscape of conversion “therapy” prohibition legislation and argue that not only is there an important and meaningful opportunity for municipal action in Ontario, but it is explicitly defined and supported by the province’s municipal legislation and the prevailing jurisprudence.

What are conversion practices?

Rather than using terms such as “conversion therapy,” which should not be confused with any form of recognized or legitimate therapy at all, the preferred language includes “conversion practices,” which better captures the breadth and range of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression change efforts. All conversion efforts are rooted within an anti-LGBTQ2S+ ideology, which believes that a person’s non-heterosexual sexual orientation or non-cisgender identity is immoral, sinful, pathological, or disordered.

Conversion practices are widely known to be dangerous, fraudulent, and unscientific. They include any practice, treatment, or service intended to change, suppress, or deny an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.[4] Importantly, bans on conversion practices do not include the non-judgmental exploration of identity or established social, legal, or medical gender transition supports and services (such as gender affirmative counselling, treatment, and surgery).

There is broad consensus in the scientific community that conversion practices are akin to torture,[5] with tragic consequences for some and lifelong repercussions for survivors.[6] Conversion practices disproportionately target vulnerable members of the community – especially children, youth, and young adults, who are told that they must deny who they are to be worthy of love and belonging.[7] A 2019-20 Canadian study concluded that 10% of sexual minority men had been subjected to conversion practices.[8] This is most likely an underrepresentation of the true impact of conversion practices as it does not account for women, trans, or Two Spirit individuals or those who do not identify as part of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

What actions have provinces and territories taken?

While a federal ban will soon be enacted under Parliament’s criminal law power,[9] a provincial regulatory patchwork is also taking shape across the country.

In most cases, early provincial efforts focused on prohibiting conversion practices among regulated health professionals and only extended protections from conversion practices to minors.[10] We see this reflected in the 2015 amendments to Ontario’s Registered Health Professions Act, 1991. At section 29.1, it reads:

No person shall, in the course of providing health care services, provide any treatment that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person under 18 years of age.[11]

Provincial and territorial law and policy includes some complements and variations to this approach:

  • In Ontario, the legislation also prohibits conversion practices from being funded as part of the provincial health insurance plan;
  • In Quebec, legislation prevents anyone from performing conversion practices (whether for pay or not), imposes monetary fines for violations, and allows survivors of conversion practices to seek financial reparations;[12]
  • In Yukon, legislation prohibits substitute decision-makers from consenting to conversion practices for another person and imposes fines and imprisonment;[13]
  • In Nova Scotia, legislation prohibits a person from giving consent to conversion practices on behalf of a person who is incapable;[14] and,
  • In Manitoba, a policy directive states that conversion practices shall have no place in the province’s public healthcare system and calls on provincial health authorities and health profession regulators to ensure that conversion practices are not practiced.[15]

While these are all positive developments, survivors of conversion practices and advocates have been critical of the narrow focus of provincial legislation. The health care framing suggests that conversion practices are only occurring within the health profession, and conversely, that these practices represent a form of legitimate medical treatment that merely requires “age-appropriate” administration. This framing is misleading and inaccurate.

What approaches have cities taken so far?

Cities draw their jurisdiction from their respective provinces or territories and the scope of authority for municipal bylaws that their legislature has conferred upon them by statute.[16] This means that there is a need to examine differences in statutory authority to better understand legislative approaches to prohibiting conversion practices and the jurisdictional authority of municipalities to take lawful action.

Among the cities that have implemented bylaws on conversion practices (including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, and Saskatoon), business prohibition bylaws have been the municipal vehicle of choice to prohibit conversion practices.[17] These bylaws generally prohibit a person or entity from engaging in or operating a business in certain areas – in this case, offering and advertising conversion practices.

In Ontario, this form of bylaw is uncommon, for a variety of reasons:

  • In Alberta and Saskatchewan, the municipal legislation defines “business” far more broadly than the Ontario legislation.[18] In these provinces, “business” includes “a calling,” which also includes non-profit, community, and religious organizations or the provision of any goods or services.[19]
  • In British Columbia, while “business” is more narrowly defined under the province’s Municipal Act, the legislation also confers on municipalities several useful powers. These include the power to refuse to grant a business license to a particular applicant, to revoke a license for reasonable cause, to suspend a license for “gross misconduct” by the business or because the business has performed a service that “may be harmful or dangerous to the health or safety of a person actually or apparently under the age of 16 years”.[20]
  • In Ontario, the Municipal Act, 2001 focuses primarily on the municipality’s ability to create “a system of licenses with respect to a business” but is less explicit on the right of the municipality to prohibit a type of business writ large.[21] Notably, section 151(1) specifies that a municipality may “refuse to grant a license or revoke or suspend a license”, and section 152(1) only prevents municipalities from adopting bylaws prohibiting three specific types of business, suggesting that other types might be restricted by bylaw if the municipal council chose to do so.

Are municipal licensing prohibitions effective?

We pause here to make some observations about the viability of the business prohibition approach more generally. First, reports provided to the councils in Alberta and Saskatchewan make some observations about the enforcement challenges of their respective bylaws:

  • In Saskatoon, an April 2020 report prepared by the city solicitor notes that “[e]nforcement would be challenging as [conversion practices] may not always be operated as a business activity”, within the scope of the city’s licensing powers;[22] and
  • In Edmonton, an August 2019 report prepared for council expresses similar concerns, stating:

Religious and spiritual organizations are generally exempt from business licensing as they are places of community. Religious assembly and spiritual guidance are not considered business activities, and therefore conversion therapy delivered under the guise of spiritual or religious counsel would not be impacted by a licensing system[.][23]

So, despite the breadth of what some provinces may consider a “business” for the purpose of licensing, there remain both jurisdictional and practical reservations. Obviously, deterrence is a strong motivation to regulate, but these concerns are noteworthy.

Second, there are constitutional concerns about the jurisdiction of municipalities to enact prohibitive municipal licenses. Municipalities draw their licensing powers from provinces, who find their power to licence businesses under section 92(9) of the Constitution Act, 1867.[24] This acts as a limit on the business licensing authority of cities, which cannot step outside of the jurisdiction conferred to provinces. The provinces cannot grant powers to cities that they do not have.

These are not untested legal waters. Bylaws that control the location or number of certain types of businesses have been challenged on the basis that they effectively prohibit the business activity in question or act as a regulation of public morality, and are therefore within the exclusive ambit of the federal Parliament, as a matter of criminal law.[25]  As stated by the Court of Appeal:

A by-law which is ostensibly within the authority of a council to enact may be set aside or declared invalid if its real purpose and attempt is to accomplish by indirect means an object which is beyond its authority.[26]

Most of the case law relates to adult entertainment, “body rub” businesses, and municipal attempts to regulate sex work. The upshot of this jurisprudence is that a municipality’s licensing powers cannot be used to prohibit what is an otherwise lawful activity.[27]

The combined effect of these two obstacles may be why the pioneering legislative efforts by the City of Kingston to address conversion practices – the first city in Ontario to commit to doing so – have focused on enacting a system of “business licensing for certain health services” instead of an outright prohibition. The bylaw proposed by Kingston’s administration adopts the restrictions on conversion practices from Ontario’s Registered Health Professions Act, 1991. The effort is plainly intended to situate the city’s bylaw within the parameters conferred by the constitution and the Municipal Act, 2001. This places any challenge to the bylaw at the province’s feet as much as those of the municipality.

Kingston’s approach has been critiqued as creating loopholes that could render the legislation meaningless, if not (i) difficult to comprehend for those seeking its protection and (ii) convenient for those hoping to avoid sanctions. Frankly, most modern forms of conversion practices do not occur within the health care system but within some faith and cultural communities that do not welcome or affirm LGBTQ2S+ people, and effective policy choices must target those arenas. Even if the bylaw accounts for this, its health care framing is confusing.

The takeaway from this discussion for Ontario cities is that while prohibiting a conversion practice business through municipal licensing powers may be possible, bylaws are constrained by (i) the definition of “business” and the scope of municipal licensing powers in the Municipal Act, 2001, (ii) the court’s treatment of prohibitive municipal bylaws under the constitutional division of powers, and (iii) the practical challenges of enforcement.

What options are available to Ontario municipalities?

Ontario municipalities can find far more solid jurisdictional footing under the more general jurisdiction for bylaws conferred by the Municipal Act, 2001, and the broad interpretation by the courts. The jurisdiction for single-, lower-, and upper-tier municipalities to pass bylaws is set out in sections 10 and 11.

In general, we find here broad authority to “provide any service or thing that the municipality considers necessary or desirable for the public”, and the authority to pass bylaws in respect of various domains which are pertinent to conversion practices, including:

  • the social well-being of the municipality;
  • the health, safety, and well-being of persons;
  • the protection of persons and property, including consumer protection;
  • business licensing (subject to our caveats, above, and as detailed under Part IV of the legislation); and
  • those services and things the municipality considers necessary or desirable.[28]

We also see in the legislation useful specific powers. For instance, a municipality may “prohibit and regulate with respect to public nuisances, including matters that, in the opinion of council, are or could become or cause public nuisances.” If arrived at in good faith,[29] a council’s opinion of what constitutes a public nuisance is not subject to review by a court.[30] The nuisance sections are enumerated among the municipality’s powers related to health and safety.

While the constitution’s division of powers must be respected, several factors can distinguish conversion practices from the enterprises at issue in the jurisprudence:

  • First, the advent of federal and provincial prohibitions confirms that these “businesses” are not otherwise lawful enterprises;
  • Second, unlike adult entertainment and “body rub” businesses, there is a consensus in the scientific and medical literature confirming that conversion practices give rise to safety, health, and well-being concerns – all matters that fit neatly within municipal crosshairs; and
  • Third – and relatedly – the pith and substance of the prohibition of conversion practices is about public safety, health, well-being, and the equality and social inclusion concerns codified in the Charter and human rights legislation – which can be distinguished from municipal legislation driven purely by moral panic and morality policing.

From these jurisdictional foundations, one could foresee an Ontario municipality developing bylaws governing various activities associated with conversion practices, including:

  • A prohibition on conversion practices in the municipality or targeting persons in the municipality, whether or not the practice is offered by a business or as a paid service;
  • A bylaw declaring conversion practices a public nuisance and crafting appropriate regulations;
  • Restrictions on advertising, marketing, or promotion of conversion practices;
  • Restriction on the sale of merchandise or literature promoting conversion practices;
  • Restrictions on business licenses targeting those offering conversion practices (recognizing, again, the limited scope of the Ontario legislation); and
  • Restrictions on providing municipal resources, facilities, advertising, or funding to persons engaged in, offering, or promoting conversion practices.

All of these can be broadened to capture the participation of those who enroll others in conversion practice programs or abet their providers through funding, administrative, logistical, transportation, or in-kind support.

Notably, Ontario’s municipal bylaw power to provide any service the municipality considers “necessary or desirable” bears special relevance because municipalities are typically engaged in the funding and governance of local public health and social services initiatives. Logically, the municipality would want to enact regulations that offer an affirming stance on protecting vulnerable people and ensure that city bylaws are not sanctioning activities like conversion practices, which create and perpetuate social problems and personal health and wellness crises their own resources are fighting in other departments. It has often been said that municipalities are the level of government closest to the people and have the responsibility and authority to address areas of community concern. Clearly, conversion practices are a threat to personal safety and well-being and pose a considerable risk to public health and inclusion.

Understandably, many Ontario municipalities often look for a precedent among their peers before acting in new regulatory areas. This is especially true of smaller municipalities without in-house legal advisors and more limited resources to defend a judicial review. But it is clear from the Ontario Court of Appeal that “all municipal powers are to be interpreted broadly and generously within their context and statutory limits.”[31] Similarly, the court has “embraced a generous, deferential approach” to municipal bylaws.[32] The following widely-cited dissenting reasons of McLachlin J. (as she then was) are illustrative:

…courts must respect the responsibility of elected municipal bodies to serve the people who elected them and exercise caution to avoid substituting their views of what is best for the citizens for those of municipal councils. Barring clear demonstration that a municipal decision was beyond its powers, courts should not so hold. In cases where powers are not expressly conferred but may be implied, courts must be prepared to adopt the ‘benevolent construction’ …and confer the powers by reasonable implication. Whatever rules of construction are applied, they must not be used to usurp the legitimate role of municipal bodies as community representatives.[33]

Similarly, lower courts have stated that:

Municipal by-laws attract a strong presumption of validity. … Where a by-law is susceptible to more than one interpretation, it must be read to fit within the parameters of the enabling municipal legislation. Barring “clear demonstration” of invalidity, courts should not hold so.[34]

With some municipalities looking for federal leadership on conversion practices, it is also notable that the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that municipalities are best positioned to enact laws that impact the everyday lives of citizens – which would include vulnerable members of a community – and that some global problems require action by all levels of government:

The case arises in an era in which matters of governance are often examined through the lens of the principle of subsidiarity. This is the proposition that law-making and implementation are often best achieved at a level of government that is not only effective, but also closest to the citizens affected and thus most responsive to their needs, to local distinctiveness, and to population diversity. La Forest J. wrote for the majority in R. v. Hydro-Québec … that “the protection of the environment is a major challenge of our time. It is an international problem, one that requires action by governments at all levels”. … His reasons in that case also quoted with approval a passage from Our Common Future, the report produced in 1987 by the United Nations’ World Commission on the Environment and Development. The so-called “Brundtland Commission” recommended that “local governments [should be] empowered to exceed, but not to lower, national norms” (p. 220).[35]

What’s next?

The jurisdictional ability to regulate conversion practices clearly resides with Ontario municipalities. This is codified in the Municipal Act, 2001 and is reflected in binding jurisprudence.

While not canvassed in this paper, we recognize that some laws governing conversion practices may necessarily engage the section 2 Charter rights of conversion practice providers.[36] However, with increasing evidence of the harm to vulnerable people (and youth in particular) caused by conversion practices, it is likely these policies would outweigh any infringement of these Charter rights and be upheld as a reasonable limitation. This is especially likely given that there is no credible scientific or medical evidence as to their efficacy or legitimacy,[37] though any Charter challenge will be fact-dependent.

The operative question facing Ontario cities is how long they will take to act to move beyond symbols (such as raising rainbow flags) to implementing substantive policies and bylaws that support systemic change and demonstrate a clear and sustained commitment to protecting and supporting vulnerable LGBTQ2S+ people. Local bylaws addressing conversion practices send an important signal that abusive and harmful practices targeting LGBTQ2S+ people will not be tolerated within their community. They also provide an additional measure of regulatory oversight to pernicious and identity-destroying activities, which may fall through the cracks of both federal criminal law and provincial health professional restrictions.

We believe the most robust and comprehensive approach to stop conversion practices from occurring in Canada is to have legislative prohibitions at all levels of government, which provides multiple tools for regulation and enforcement depending upon the nature and severity of the circumstance. For example, including provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada prohibiting conversion practices will provide for a strong enforcement mechanism; however, not all LGBTQ2S+ citizens feel comfortable making a complaint to the police as they may fear further victimization at the hands of law enforcement that once criminalized and persecuted their identity. Not to mention that criminal prosecution can be lengthy and may retraumatize the victim, and criminal charges place an elevated burden of proof on the prosecutor. In contrast, a bylaw complaint might result in a more suitable and effective remedy and serve as a very effective deterrent. In many municipal bylaws, fines for conversion practices may range as high as $10,000 for individuals and $25,000 for a business (that’s for each occurrence).

What also cannot be underestimated is the powerful statement that a conversion practices bylaw makes in the local community. It tells LGBTQ2S+ citizens that they are not only welcome but safe, valued, and respected members of the community. We conclude by asking if a municipal bylaw can save even one life from a lifetime of trauma and abuse, is it not worth the effort? And if a bylaw is likely to be challenged for illegality or constitutionality regardless of its form, does it not make sense to defend the bylaw in its strongest version? Perhaps this debate is about more than municipal authority, but a question of municipal leadership and what side of history local government leaders will choose to stand on.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this text belong to the authors.

[1] Douglas W. Judson is a lawyer and municipal councillor in Ontario, Dr. Kristopher Wells is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth at MacEwan University, Nicholas Schiavo is the Executive Director of No Conversion Canada, and Alicia Cooke is a JD student at Osgoode Hall Law School.

[2] Department of Justice, News Release,  “Government introduces legislation to ban conversion therapy practices in Canada” (November 29, 2021), online: <https://www.canada.ca/en/department-justice/news/2021/11/government-introduces-legislation-to-ban-conversion-therapy-practices-in-canada.html>.

[3] Vancouver was the first municipality in Canada to take action legislative against conversion therapy practices when it amended its existing business prohibition bylaw (No. 12147) on June 19th, 2018. For the current status of conversion therapy prohibition laws in Canada, see No Conversion Canada’s interactive map: <https://www.noconversioncanada.com/legislation-map>.

[4] For further information see Cornell University’s Public Policy Research Portal: What We Know Project, “What Does the Scholarly Research Say about Whether Conversion Therapy Can Alter Sexual Orientation Without Causing Harm?” (2016), online Public Policy Research Portal: <https://whatweknow.inequality.cornell.edu/topics/lgbt-equality/what-does-the-scholarly-research-say-about-whether-conversion-therapy-can-alter-sexual-orientation-without-causing-harm/>.

[5]  Josina Bothe, “It’s torture, not therapy: A global overview of conversion therapy: Practices, perpetrators, and the role of states” (2020), online (pdf): International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims <https://irct.org/uploads/media/Its_torture_not_therapy_a_global_overview_of_conversion_therapy.pdf>.

[6] Trevor Goodyear et al, “‘They want you to kill your inner queer but somehow leave the human alive:’ Delineating the impacts of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression change efforts” (2021)                                           Journal of Sex Research 1.

[7]  Amy E Green et al, “Self-reported conversion efforts and suicidality among US LGBTQ youths and young adults” (2018) 110:8 American Journal of Public Health 1221.

[8] Community Based Research Centre, “Conversion Therapy & SOGIECE in Canada” (2020), online (pdf): <https://www.cbrc.net/sex_now_survey_results_reveal_prevalence_of_change_efforts>.

[9] Constitution Act, 1867 (UK), 30 & 31 Vict, c 3, s 91. Reprinted in RSC 1985, Appendix II, No 5 [Constitution Act, 1867].

[10] Kristopher Wells, “Conversion Therapy in Canada: A Guide for Legislative Action (Revised Edition)” (2020) at 18, online (pdf): MacEwan University <https://www.cbrc.net/conversion_therapy_in_canada_a_guide_for_legislative_action>.

[11] Regulated Health Professions Act, SO 1991, c 18 [RHPA].

[12] An Act to protect persons from conversion therapy provided to change their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, SQ 2020, c 28.

[13] Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protection Act, SY 2020, c 7.

[14] Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protection in Health Care Act, SNS 2018, c 28.

[15] Manitoba, “Position on Conversion Therapy”, online: Health and Seniors Care <https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/conversion_therapy.html>.

[16] See, for example, Ontario’s Provincial Offences Act, RSO 1990, c P33, s 1(1), defines “offence” as “an offence under an Act of the Legislature or under a regulation or by-law made under the authority of an Act of the Legislature.” In the case of Ontario municipalities, the Municipal Act, 2001, SO 2001, c 25 [Municipal Act, 2001] is the relevant legislation. Section 5(3) specifies that “[a] municipal power … shall be exercised by by-law[.]” Sections 9-11 set out areas in which a municipality can adopt bylaws.

[17] See e.g. City of Calgary, Bylaw No 20M2020, Prohibited Businesses Bylaw, s 3 and Sch. “A”; City of Vancouver, Bylaw No 5156, Business Prohibition Bylaw, at s 4 and Sch. “A” (15); and City of Regina, Bylaw No 2021-51, The Prohibited Businesses Bylaw, 2021, at s 4 and Sch. “A”.

[18] In Alberta, the Municipal Government Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. M-26 states at s. 1(1)(a.1) that “business” includes a “calling”, among other things, “whether or not for profit and however organized or formed”. In Saskatchewan, The Cities Act, S.S. 2002, c C-11.1 defines business broadly includes “a calling”.

[19] In the Municipal Act, 2001, section 150 states that ““business” means any business wholly or partly carried on within a municipality even if the business is being carried on from a location outside the municipality and includes, (a) trades and occupations, (b) exhibitions, concerts, festivals and other organized public amusements held for profit or otherwise, (c) the sale or hire of goods or services on an intermittent or one-time basis and the activities of a transient trader, (d) the display of samples, patterns or specimens of goods for the purpose of sale or hire.”

[20] Municipal Act, RSBC 1996, c 323, at ss. 666-668.

[21] Municipal Act, 2001, at ss. 10(2), 11(3), and 151(1).

[22] City of Saskatoon, Information Report, “Conversion Therapy” (20 April 2020), online: <https://pub-saskatoon.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=113322>.

[23] City of Edmonton, Information Report, “Conversion Therapy Practices” (21 August 2019), online: <https://pub-edmonton.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=6626>.

[24] Constitution Act, 1867 (UK), 30 & 31 Vict, c 3, at s. 92(9).

[25] Westendorp v The Queen, [1983] 1 SCR 43 at paras 19-22, 144 DLR (3d) 259.

[26] Barrick Gold Corp. v Ontario (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing), [2000] OJ No. 4426 (Ont CA) [Barrick] at para 59; cited in Suncor Energy Products Inc. v Plympton-Wyoming (Town), 2014 ONSC 2934 at para 135.

[27] Treesann Management Inc. v Richmond Hill (Town) (2000), 47 OR (3d) 221 (Ont CA); Pimenova v Brampton (City), [2004] 49 MPLR (3d) 1 (Ont S.C.).

[28] Municipal Act, 2001, at ss. 10-11.

[29] A by-law can be deemed to have been passed in “bad faith” if “[c]ouncil acted unreasonably and arbitrarily and without the degree of fairness, openness, and impartiality required of a municipal government”: e.g. Drake v. Stratford (City), 2010 ONSC 2544, at para 41 (varied in 2011 ONCA 98), cited in Barrick, supra note 26 at para 136. There is a presumption of good food faith: London Property Management Assn. v London (City), 2011 ONSC 4710 at para 100.

[30] Municipal Act, 2001, ss. 128. Nuisance bylaws typically address conduct that amounts to the tort of nuisance, such as littering, loitering, damage to property, putting up tents on public streets, trespass, or obstructing access to property. Some cities have used the nuisance provisions to enact bylaws regulating waste management, including single-use plastics. The Court of Appeal for Ontario has found that nuisance bylaws pertaining to coercive conduct: Detlor v Brantford (City), 2013 ONCA 560, at para 84.

[31] Croplife Canada v Toronto (City), [2005] OJ No. 1896 (CA).

[32] Eng v Toronto (City), 2012 ONSC 6818 [Eng], at para 16.

[33] Shell Canada Products Ltd. v Vancouver (City), [1994] 1 SCR 231, para. 63; cited in Nanaimo (City) v. Rascal Trucking Ltd., 2000 SCC 13, at para. 36; also cited in Sorensen v. The County of Frontenac, 2018 ONSC 3912 (Div. Ct.), at para 5; also cited in Whiteley et al v The Corporation of the City of Guelph, 2019 ONSC 118, at para 33.

[34] Eng, supra note 32 at para 17.

[35] 114957 Canada Ltée (Spraytech, Société d’arrosage) v Hudson (Town), 2001 SCC 40, at para 3 (emphasis added, citations omitted).

[36] Section 2 of the Charter states that “[e]veryone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association.”

[37] For further Charter considerations, see: Kristopher Wells, “Conversion Therapy in Canada: A Guide for Legislative Action (Revised Edition)” (2020) at 21-23, online (pdf): MacEwan University <https://www.familleslgbt.org/documents/pdf/ConversionTherapy.pdf>.