For the Record: Prentice says controversies on gay-straight alliance bill his fault


Statement issued Thursday by Alberta Premier Jim Prentice:

Premier Jim Prentice issued the following statement today:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, as you are aware I returned to the province last evening, following meeting with the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec and a meeting this morning with Governor Christie of New Jersey.

“I am here this afternoon to speak to Bill 10 and to respond to your questions.

“Bill 10 is intended to strike a balance on important issues involving:

“- the rights of LGBQT youth

“- the rights of parents to be involved in the education of their children

“- the autonomy of school boards

“- the constitutional rights of separate school boards

“None of this is easy. Rights are difficult and the conflict between competing rights is difficult for all of us. The debate surrounding Bill 10 proves this.

“Such debates are clearly divisive. One cannot have rights without respecting the rights of others. The rights of no citizen are absolute over the rights of another.

“Moreover, conflict between religious freedoms and the rights of LGBQT students involve deeply held views of personal belief.

“The introduction of Bill 10 as a solution to the divisiveness created by Bill 202 has clearly not been helpful.

“I accept personal responsibility for the introduction of Bill 10.

“I felt that the Bill struck an appropriate balance and that it achieved signature advances for the rights of LGBQT students.

“I would point, in particular, to the fact that Bill 10 proposes to explicitly enshrine the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation in the Alberta Bill of Rights. To my knowledge no one else in Canada has done this.

“The Bill also proposes to repeal Section 11.1 of the Human Rights Act which the advocates of Alberta’s LGBQT community have argued is one of the most discriminatory pieces of legislation in Canada.

“The Bill attempts to respect religious freedoms and also enshrines parental rights in the Alberta Bill of Rights.

“No one else in Canada has done the latter.

“Unfortunately, Bill 10 has added to, rather than resolved these divisions.

“I accept personal responsibility for this as I am the Premier.

“I am most disturbed that our LGBQT youth, are caught in the middle of a divisive debate. This they didn’t ask for. And most are simply young people trying to find their way in life and in the life of our Province.

“As Premier, I am Premier for all Albertans which means representing and protecting our religious minorities, and our all of children, including those who are LGBQT.

“At present, there is clearly no consensus in Alberta on either the constitutionality or indeed the wisdom of the provincial government mandating Gay Straight Alliances in schools.

“The issue was polarizing to begin with and has become even more so over the past several days.

“So where to from here?

“Both I and my caucus have heard, loudly and clearly, that Albertans wish there to be further consultation on the substance of Bill 10.

“Bill 10 clearly does not make Gay Straight Alliances mandatory.

“The Bill creates a legislated framework within which students who wish to create Gay Straight Alliances can take such a request forward to the school authority elected to make such decisions.

“In my view, the school boards who are elected to administer schools have the legal responsibility to do so and that includes the obligation to respect the Charter rights of their student bodies.

“There have been few voices supportive of this approach and many opposed. More importantly, many Albertans have expressed the view that this should not be done with haste.

“Accordingly, I have met with my caucus, have heard their concerns and have instructed the Government House Leader to place the third reading of Bill 10 on hold, pending further consultation with Albertans.

“I would thank the members of my caucus who have advocated for the balance that Bill 10 attempts to strike. I want, in particular to acknowledge the leadership, hard work and personal courage of Sandra Jansen who has been responsible for the carriage of Bill 10 in the Legislative Assembly.

“I don’t intend to be specific today on immediate next steps. Given the emotion on all sides of this discussion, I think that everyone will benefit from a pause. Thank you.”

3 thoughts on “For the Record: Prentice says controversies on gay-straight alliance bill his fault”

  1. The very heart of the problem, when it comes to any minority seeking safety or equality in our society, lies within the right wing political realm and the evangelist community. Both of these communities, tightly intertwined, praise the Lord and his word, both are staunch believers for the vast majority of them, and yet, this is the seat of hate and discrimination, the source of controversy, of judgment and condemnation. The Alberta PC leadership, the Wild Rose Party, and certainly, Stephen Harper and his sheep all fall into this category. It envelopes a lot of the Catholic hierarchy, the Mormons and many other cult-like organizations that purport to be something they are not! It is these communities that have distorted Christianity to suit their own selfish and narrow way to the exclusion of segments of our society to whom their arms should be open and welcoming as TRUE Christians do! It is time we weeded out these exclusive evangelist organizations and rename them for what they truly are …. a blight on our society! It’s time to tax the hell out of these sick and inbred churches, and their massive, expensive church buildings, and it’s time to call a spade a spade because these organizations that call themselves religion are anything but! These so-called christians are a blight on real Christianity and they stand for everything that Jesus Christ did NOT! These are the people that He threw out of places of worship and told them they were doing the work of the devil. Sadly, Jim Prentice is one of these people.

  2. It was clear from the beginning that the dictates of Rome would overcome Alberta Bills when conflict arose.
    Blakemans bill was perfectly OK.
    This Conservative Caucus and Cabinet have shown their shameful stripes and sent Alberta back to medieval times.
    Don’t know if Prentice can resolve it.

  3. Ron, there are many problems with all organizations be it organized religion, government institutions or special interest groups. We can agree on that. I am not sure you are wanting a religious discussion or a discussion on the matter of Bill 10. I think the matter comes down to the debate on what we accept and what we do not as being part of the mandate of the school system. Without doing too much research, it is safe to say that the frustration level of parents with the public school system is at an all time high. Weak reading and math scores, weak learning systems, graduating students who clearly cannot function at a grade 12 level, the removal of trade skills from the schools, optional physical education…these are not positives. I am opposed to the level of insistence by the school system to be the social conscience of our kids arguably at the expense of the real issues that I just mentioned. Clearly, this is now moving into an unhealthy space. The education system is set up to educate the kids. Social causes have very limited place in the school system. Claims about bullying are exaggerated and overstated on this issue. The numbers of gay kids being bullied is less that the number of straight kids being bullied. This issue is not a rights issue, it is an entitlement and social engineering issue being sold as a rights and anti-bullying issue. Lets start with points of agreement that the State has a responsibility to give our kids a world class education and leave the individual with the right to hold their own religious, secular or any other classification as a private matter. The argument needs to be based on appropriateness, parental respect and educational excellence. There will never be broad acceptance that the gay lifestyle should be facilitated by the education system. Bill 10 is a compromise that I believe satisfies the center position around what we should expect from the education system. Regardless of where a person stands on this Bill, we have to move away from this being a rights issue because it isn’t. Gay rights are secure without the Province mandating and facilitating clubs in schools based on sexual orientation. I will push back on any issue that is best left to personal choice and personal privacy which is what we want outside of the school system.

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