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Monday, April 28, 2008

alison redford: talking about human rights hunting

As the first session of the 27th Alberta Legislature continues, you just need to take a look around the Assembly floor to see some pretty impressive people. One of them happens to be Calgary-Elbow Tory MLA, Minister of Justice, and Attorney General Alison Redford. Though I was disappointed to see her defeat Craig Cheffins in the March election (I was the Communications Coordinator for the Alberta Liberals during the June 2007 Calgary-Elbow by-election), a quick glance at Redford's resume even impresses this blogging skeptic.

As Graham Thomson put it in a recent column:

Redford has a jaw-droppingly impressive resume that includes work as a human rights lawyer in South Africa, the Balkans and Vietnam. In 2005, she braved the war zone that is Afghanistan to work as a United Nation's Election Commissioner to promote democracy and free elections, something many Albertans take for granted given the record low 41-per- cent turnout for last month's provincial election.

Redford has the credentials of a real Progressive Conservative, so, I was a little surprised when she began her term as Justice Minister by refusing to talk about the inclusion sexual orientation under the Alberta Human Rights Act. Ten years ago, in Vriend v. Alberta, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the non-inclusion of sexual orientation, as a prohibited ground of discrimination in Alberta's Individual's Rights Protection Act (now the Alberta Human Rights Act), infringed and denied the rights guaranteed by Section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Instead of being the responsibility of the Justice Minister & Attorney General, human rights issues apparently fall under the responsibility of Culture and Community Spirit Minister Lindsay Blackett. Let me get this straight, the government's top lawyer now defers questions about Supreme Court rulings and human rights to the Minister in charge of arts and culture?
Even though Redford won't (or isn't being allowed) to talk about amending Alberta's Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it seems that she doesn't have a problem (or is being allowed) standing up on the Assembly floor to talk about the importance of killing small animals in Bill 201 – The Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Heritage Act.
The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

Ms Redford: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I had not intended to speak in support of this bill, but I would like to thank my Hon. colleague from Cypress- Medicine Hat for introducing this bill.

Listening to the speeches that have been given today with respect to the importance of hunting, fishing, and trapping in our province, I was moved to speak. I have given a lot of thought over the years to these issues and respect the fact that as a government this province and this government have been able to develop a system where we have been able to responsibly manage the environment in such a way that Albertans that respect these traditions are able to participate fully in these traditions.

As I mentioned, it’s not something that I specifically have ever been involved in; I’m more of a hiker. However, what I would say is that when I look at the people in my constituency, in Calgary- Elbow, that talk about these issues, they are engaged in these issues. I think it would be a shame for us to think of this piece of legislation as only representing people that happen to live in rural areas. There are people in my constituency that are proud members of Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited. They are people that are passionate about environmental management. They are people that care about respecting the traditions of this province. I think one of the challenges that we have in the future in Alberta is to make sure that we can respect both the traditions of rural Alberta as well as the lifestyles of people who are living in the cities. I think this bill is a great example of how we can marry those two traditions and those two lifestyles.

So a very short speech. Thank you to my colleague, and thank you for the consideration today.


Anonymous said...

Progressive Conservatives need to walk the talk. Redford is impressive, but she needs to prove her Red Tory credentials and that she's just not another crony.

The urban MLAs need to start flexing their muscles against the rural Tory machine.

Anonymous said...

It has long been a shameful reality that the Alberta Conservatives haven't done anything to respond to the Supreme Court ruling. Even with Hancock as Justice Minister the province failed to change any of the current legislation. I'm not holding my breath for Redford but I can be hopeful.

Matt Grant said...

Perhaps Red Tories should have realized that voting on mass for a government that, as a whole, would reject progressive legislation and fiscal responsibility would lead to this exact situation. Welcome to change that works for Albertans.

Two big Redford promises to watch...
-Securing a ring road deal in southwest Calgary before the next election.
-Establishing Mount Royal University before the next election.

Redford won by about 3%. Cabinet position or no, if she doesn't address these two big issues, she’d better hope the upcoming restructuring of the electoral boundaries boots Lakeview out of Elbow and bring Altador (where she lives in Calgary-Currie) in.

Anonymous said...

She's working very closely on some legislation with neighbouring backbencher Jonathan Denis. Wonder what this means??

Anonymous said...

For a minute there,Dave,I thought you and Chapman were hit by the same bolt of lightening.There seems to be a notion of discontent from Mr Chapman in relation to the GOA.Understandably so considering his priorities are not that of Mr Chapmans(Economy trumps Environment).Then to hear you speak highly of M.Redford left me confused til I read on..Thank God you are still OK!!!Musical Chairs can be a reasonable explanation as to why Mr.Blackett answered the question.I am not so sure our province can wait for the new Ministers to get up to speed.God help us!!!!Keep them on their toes Dave

Anonymous said...

Just who we don't need as a Justice Minister - not only a lawyer but one with a Human Rights background as well as being a "progressive".

Highly unlikely she will support removing the freedom of speech sections/draconian investigate authority in the AB Human Rights Commission.

Finally, someone is noticing the the AB HRC falls under Culture and Community Spirit rather than where it should be - under the Department of Justice because it is a quasi-judicial body.

This in itself is a joke and is probably less positive than where it was last housed - Culture, Recreation, Tourism, Parks. There was an opportunity to modify, if not totally begin dismantling the AB HRC but this is not going to happen now.

Where are the two ministers - Justice/Culture - in terms of buying into what Barbara Hall (ON HRC) is selling - more, rather than less draconian powers for her agency.

I would have thought her maiden speech in the legislature might have been involved with Justice - like how she is going to move Jackie Tran out of the country or at least where this issue stands at the moment.

So far the Culture Minister is concerned with the film industry getting funding. As far as I know, he has not said one word about the AB HRC. This while there is a tremendous amount of under-reporting going on in the MSM (fear of civil suit based) as regards the mess that is the Canadian Human Rights Commission/CHRT with the AB HRC not far behind.

Anonymous said...

One of those brilliant investigative reporters wasting oxygen in the press gallery should take a look into Redford's resume claims. That is, if they remember how to dial a telephone. My guess is that half of it is bullshit.

Anonymous said...

It has yet to be proven that the Red Tories have any more voice, or greater role to play, in this government than in Klein's. Dave Hancock, with considerably more political weight than novice Redford, was unable to act on Human Rights Act amendment, and Ron Stevens, ever the precise and correct lawyer, and one of the smartest members of the Tory caucus, was also frozen on this front.

Putting aside Redford's impressive attributes, this issue is among a long list of others where Albertans are waiting for some sense of direction from the top leadership. Hopefully, it won't be simply to launch a PR campaign, as seems to be the case on our serious environmental problems. (BTW, how is it that hunting is a priority policy issue given everything else we have in front of us as a province?)

Anonymous said...

Seeing that the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Charter has opened the door to a multiplicity of abuses, and the Feds now want to revise it, it is wise that the province wait. Redford is wise to pick her issues.