NewsThu Apr 30, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST
Alberta Government Refuses HRC Reform, Adds “Sexual Orientation” to Anti-Discrimination Law
By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
EDMONTON, Alberta, April 30, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Alberta Government has caved in to the homosexual agenda and included "sexual orientation" as a category of prohibited discrimination in its bill to amend the human rights act. The bill was introduced into the legislature by the government this week.
Alberta has had de facto "gay rights" protection since a 1998 Supreme Court ruling in the Vriend v. Alberta case. That case saw homosexual activist Delwin Vriend charge Alberta with violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by refusing to include "sexual orientation" in the province’s human rights legislation. Acceptance of the government’s proposed amendment will enshrine the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Vriend into Alberta law.
The government has drawn criticism from conservatives for demurring from addressing in the legislation proposals to reduce the power of the Alberta Human Rights Commission. The commission has come under heavy fire recently over allegations that its processes are unfair to its targets and concerns that the commission has a tendency to violate fundamental free speech rights, particularly in its handling of "hate speech" cases. Instead, Bill 44, the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Amendment Act, will focus on improving the processing of complaints to reduce wait times and improve the commission’s "services to Albertans" by injecting $1.7 million in additional funding.
Minister of Culture and Community Spirit, Lindsay Blackett had previously indicated some support for reforming the commission, saying that "Most people would concur the (AHRC) process is somewhat broken," and that "Human rights commissions, as you probably know, have been under scrutiny and criticism across the country."
"Last year, I promised to review every facet of our province’s human rights system to make it more efficient, effective and transparent for Albertans," Minister Blackett said on Tuesday after the bill was introduced. "Alberta’s population has grown in size and cultural diversity, and these improvements will help ensure the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission is better equipped to meet the priorities and needs of that changing population. People have lost faith in the commission. We want to make sure that it’s a transparent, equitable system."
Conservative commentator Ezra Levant, however, one of the most vocal critics of Canada’s human rights commissions, said on his blog that the Alberta government’s refusal to reform the HRC was "appalling."
"I was tough on (Premier) Stelmach, because he deserves it. It’s one thing to do nothing about HRCs—like the federal Conservatives. I can even understand it, if I disagree with it—it’s inertia. But to actually say you’re going to reform something, and to make it worse, as Stelmach has done? Appalling."
Conservatives, however, have expressed approval for the fact that the proposed legislation gives parents legal control over what their children will be taught in school. The bill makes provisions for parents to remove their children from courses that conflict with their religious and moral convictions, bringing Alberta’s laws concerning parental rights into alignment with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which says "parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children."
"Caucus members brought it forward and wanted protection for parents to make decisions on what they felt was appropriate for their children," said Premier Ed Stelmach.
See previous LSN coverage:
New Alberta Human Rights Chief Commissioner to Work to Add "Sexual Orientation" to Legislation
Alberta Considers Making Parents’ Control over Education a "Human Right"