Bill 10 on pause

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December 11, 2014 9:02 AM

After weeks of taking flak from opposition members, Alberta Premier Jim Prentice has announced that he was taking full responsibility for Bill 10.

In a press conference last Friday, Prentice announced that he would be stopping the proceedings to the bill.

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

“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.”

Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke said that the issue of Bill 10 is a complicated issue that was meant to balance three sets of rights that were not able to be granted in full measure.

“Bill 10 made an effort to strike a balance between the three issues. Clearly the reaction that the government received,” made the issue more divisive, according to Starke.

But he wasn’t hearing much about the bill back in his riding of Vermilion-Lloydminster.

“What I was hearing from school board officials, that I communicated within my constituency, was that Bill 10 struck an appropriate balance,” he said.

Starke said that along with his government colleagues, they have heard from other community groups in the province that Bill 10 did not have that balance that the premier was looking for in this issue.

“I think that the premier made the good decision to put the bill on hold, for now,” said Starke.

Prentice said that there will be consultations done on Bill 10 in the future before any action is done on the issue of gay-straight alliances in the province.

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

Asked what his position on GSAs were, Starke said that he has always been in favour, and supports the formation of GSAs.

“I have always said that, when Motion 503 was discussed and I favour it now, too.”

Starke said that GSA clubs have been shown to be beneficial to help provide safe spaces for students where it’s needed.

Bill 10 was put forward after Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman introduced her own motion earlier in November.\

According to Blakeman, Motion 202 would have required all school boards to develop policies to support students who want to lead and establish GSA activities and organizations.

Motion 202 would have also repealed section 11.1 of the Alberta Human Rights Act, which requires a parent or guardian be notified if sexual orientation will be discussed in the classroom, according to Blakeman.

The Liberal motion would have also made reference to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Human Rights Act in Alberta’s Education Act.

In a news conference, Prentice said Blakeman’s Bill 202 is “unnecessarily divisive,” prompting the government to counter it with Bill 10: The Act to Amend the Alberta Bill of Rights to Protect our Children.

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