Progress Alberta Report #174

From the Desk of John Wodak

Progress Report #174
Your weekly update on Alberta politics for July 8, 2019

Bill 8 a hateful end to the spring session

The first burst of legislative changes from the new UCP government ended last Friday with the conclusion of the spring session.

Bill 8–or Bill ‘h8’, as the opposition has been calling it–was the last significant item on the UCP agenda. The bill repeals the School Act, the rules which govern Alberta’s school systems, and replaces it with the Education Act, a version of these rules written back in 2014.

Notably this means all the legislative protections brought in to defend GSAs at schools have been torn up. When the bill becomes law, teachers will have the authority to out gay students. School administrations won’t have to immediately allow the establishment of GSAs. If students’ privacy or rights around forming and participating in a GSA are violated, their only recourse will be to launch a court case against the government.

The opposition NDP argued firmly against the bill and offered a number of amendments, and fought as best they could with a filibuster that lasted nearly four days–but the UCP tuned them out and passed the thing with no changes. On the way out, Kenney’s caucus looked very pleased with themselves.

This is legislation that Ric McIver decried just last year as clearly being about outing gay kids. But he voted for it anyway.

Doug Schweitzer during his UCP leadership run that his party had evolved, and that he would support GSAs. But he voted for this anyway.

Leila Aheer, who raised the Pride flag at the Legislature recently and has positioned herself as an ostensible ally to the community, voted for this anyway.

Every single member of the UCP caucus is complicit in this attack on some of Alberta’s most vulnerable kids. Don’t forget it.

Inquisition season

Jason Kenney is pushing ahead with his ‘war room’ project, and the next big step is a public inquiry targeting his political enemies.

Amnesty International and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association are warning that Kenney’s anti-environmentalist/anti-leftist inquisition will put Canadians’ civil rights in jeopardy.

Obviously no environmentalist is pleased to hear that the Harper-era strategy of governments attacking non-profits is back but even the moderates are starting to see how much this thing stinks. Writing for the CBC last week, Graham Thomson calls it “a waste of time and money” and a return to an old, ineffective strategy.

And if you assume that the objective of the project is to somehow support Alberta O&G, definitely, it sure is a big waste. But that’s not really what the war room is about.

We saw a teaser of what’s really going back in the final weeks of the provincial election. The real objective here is to create villains that can be tied to Justin Trudeau in advance of the federal election–just as made-up villains were tied to Rachel Notley in the provincial election. Expect the thoroughly inoffensive and corporate-friendly Pembina Institute to be made out to be eco-terrorists, again, but this time somehow in the throes of the Liberals; they might even put our man Duncan up in front of the inquisitor, too, if no one tells them that we actually don’t support the Liberals here.

Jim Storrie

Progress Alberta · Canada