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Monday, May 25, 2009

another bill 44 compromise leads pcs to another no-win political situation.

The ongoing Bill 44 saga has been amazing to watch.

As a party with the legislative numbers to have easily rammed through this Bill while the Opposition parties and the media were distracted by the outbreak of the Swine Flu/H1N1 virus, it seems that Alberta's Progressive Conservatives have emerged with a no-win political situation.

Even if the controversial amendments are amended, the essence of the original amendment -- a compromise to the social conservatives MLAs in the PC caucus -- is now being compromised because of opposition from outside the Legislature and notably by one of the groups most loathed by the hard-core conservatives: the Alberta Teachers' Association.

While the sheer number of PC MLAs in the Assembly will ensure that a version of Bill 44 will become law, this Legislative roller coaster of the past month has raised questions about the cohesiveness of the PC caucus, and has saddled its two arguably most progressive Cabinet Ministers -- Dave Hancock and Lindsay Blackett -- with some controversial and undesirable political baggage.


kenchapman said...

Compromise on a fundamentally flawed law does not rehabilitate it. It makes it worse.

This Bill 44 is all about institutionalizing bigotry and is perpetrated by pure political pandering. It is not sound public policy and it is not good law.

Parents have all the protection then need to ensure they participate in the religious and human sexuality instruction and education of their children now. The curent School Act provisions dealing with parental preferences in theses areas are working well and have done so for 20 years.

Bill 44 is not a solution because there is no problem in the first place.

The only compromising in Bill 44 is tht it is compromising teachers and their ability to do their jobs.

It is also compromising the values of the rest of us who believe this Bill 44 is thinly veiled discrimination based on homosexuality and sexual orientation.

Gauntlet said...

The original act was not a compromise, it was regressive.

The Supreme Court ruled on the issue of whether sexual orientation was included in our human rights law ten years ago. It is. Has been since.

The fact that the provincial legislature is only now getting around to actually typing those words into the act means absolutely nothing. It doesn't change the state of the law.

So it is no "compromise" to add in this education clause, whether you think it's pointless, stupid, bigoted, a mis-use of human rights law, or some combination of the above.

Anonymous said...

True. The PC's compromised their values to appease the far right-wing elements in the party. The question is: Who is steering the ship?

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

Here's the fundamental problem. Virtually all religions contain tenets that offend human rights.

Whether it's Catholicism's take on homosexuality or Muslim stance on women's rights, what is taught in Church (and in homes to children) will in many cases offend "human rights".

So. That being said. Do we want to come right out and say that it is the position of the state to educate children why their parents are "wrong"? Do we truly follow the Hillary Clinton policy of allowing the state to establish the values of our progeny?

Maybe you say, "yes". But recall -there are states in this world today who suggest Jews have no right to exist. Ceding authority to the state to govern morality is not necessarily a good thing, at lesat it isn't in Iran, or in Germany fifty years ago.

Anonymous said...

Bill 44 is a bad law. Keep up the opposition!

kenchapman said...

You are right roblaw - religions contain tenets that offend human rights. Religions are private groups not public organizations lilke a public eduction system.

That is why we allow for some opting out to avoid anyone group trying to indoctrinate religious beliefs in the public system. We even allow for opting out in those those private education institutions that are partially publically funded.

Catholics can decide that women cannot belong to the priesthood in their church - that is in their private sphere to decide. But they can't decide that sexual orientation or education of women is a grounds for discrimination in public's education system. Those who wish to opt out of such instruction have that choice.

It is not about the state establishing the values of our progeny, it is about what kind of society to we want and how do we transmit those values in our culture to ackieve that goal. the state is only part of it.

I lean towards an inclusive and tolerant society that can thrive of differences not fear them. As such I can appreciate the need for accommodation of value differences in private spheres like religious belief. I just don't think they get to dictate and determine the values in the public sphere - particularly in our laws like is happening in Bill 44.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing flawed about Bill 44 - except that, as Kent Hehr pointed out, section 3 should be peared down to its 1996 version to limit unreasonable challenges to freedom of speech.

It's up to parents to raise their children, not the state. Rob Anderson should be commended for his work on this file. Dave C and Ken C are way, way, way off base.

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

Ken - I don't disagree with your goals for our society. Personally, I'm a non-denominational Christian, who has faith in religion, but not in any particular Church.

However - I've read Bill 44, and I do not see anything in your assertion to suggest that religion is being allowed to "dictate and determine the values in the public sphere".

At it simplest, Bill 44 says - if you are going to include, in your curriculum, matters regarding sexuality or religion, you have to make parents aware and they are permitted to have their children exempted.

That's all.

There is no suggestion that the curriculum not include instruction in these areas or limits discussion or instruction regarding sexuality or sexual orientation or even religion. It just says, a parent has a right to say "no thank-you".

Doesn't seem to me to be that draconian - if the government is going to legislate an obligation for parents, effectively forcing them to go to school, well, it wouldn't appear unreasonable to allow parents some latitude to exempt children from matters that offend their faith.

My concern is that the real problem with the legislation - the prohibtion of free speech, wasn't touched.

Anonymous said...

Look at how left wing this government is!

Anonymous said...

What do you mean as "progressive"? Do you mean left wing? If so Blackett is anything but left wing. He's a hard core conservative.

You're right about Hancock though, who could be a Liberal.