It’s been Christmas in May for the NDP since the UCP AGM. Every day seems to add one more feather to the government’s caps. After the membership voted in favour of reinstating parental notification for “extra-curricular activities” that involved the distribution of “resources” pertaining to religion or sexuality on Sunday, all parties (including Jason Kenney) have been on the defensive. It is a “very badly worded” motion Kenney told CTV Power Play, as he stood “by his decision not to enact” the policy members voted for.
“Research shows that GSAs save lives and this policy flies in the face not only of scientific evidence but of basic human decency as well” said a press release from the Alberta NDP on Sunday. Stephen Mandel, leader of the Alberta Party, stated there are”certain fundamental things that are not negotiable: children’s rights and their (right) to join a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance)”. It’s “a step backwards”, echoed Alberta Liberal Party leader David Khan.
Another gift for the Government is the newly-formed habit of the UCP to walk out of the Legislature when they don’t like the topic. That topic of late is Bill 9, the legislation which will require a 50 metre safeguard for staff and patients entering and exiting clinics that offer abortion services. The UCP has walked out en masse from three debates on the Bill so far; April 11, May 3, and again on May 9. Some quipped the government could effectively keep them out of the Legislature permanently by extending the debates.
Funny though it might seem, MLAs in Alberta are elected to represent their constituents. Kenney himself said the Party “will have to govern for all Albertans, not just Conservative Party members”, yet has instructed his caucus not to show up for debate; and they have listened. Is a representative that is beholden only to the Party Leader a true representative of the people who elected them?
Finally, although it’s only Thursday, for the second time since Jason Kenney came to “save” Alberta, the reluctance of Kenney and his supporters to acknowledge a teen’s right to privacy became international news. For the record, no one is suggesting teens cannot tell their parents if they join a GSA. If anything, this new legislation should be an opportunity for increased dialogue between parents and their children.
While I never personally thought of the UCP as the gift that keeps on giving, one has to admit they have not had a good week. Luckily for them, most people don’t pay attention to politics until election time. Unfortunately, the UCP is very quickly acquiring “old” Party baggage the “new” Party was supposed to have left behind.