‘Victory in Alberta!’: Controversial Education Act ‘dies on the books’ over election call
ALBERTA, March 30, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Homeschooling parents and other concerned parents across Alberta’s education system are celebrating after the province’s Education Act (Bill 2) failed to pass its third reading due to the Conservative Government having called an election on Monday.
“Victory in Alberta!” declared the Home School Legal Defence Association (HSLDA) in a press release. “Thanks to the thousands of homeschooling families across Alberta and in the rest of Canada and the United States who called, wrote, attended rallies and prayed to defeat this Bill.”
Parents across the province had expressed grave concern over section 16 of the proposed Education Act for what they saw as an infringement on their parental rights to raise and educate their own children as they saw fit.
Section 16 stipulated that all instructional materials in schools, including home and private schools, “must reflect the diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta, promote understanding and respect for others and honour and respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Human Rights Act.”
The HSLDA had warned that the last part of section 16 would “force political correctness on parents in their own homes when teaching their children,” by making even home education materials subject to the Alberta Human Rights Act.
The Alberta Human Rights Act is the same legislation that was used most infamously to target Christian Pastor Stephen Boissoin, who was found guilty of “hate speech” by a provincial human rights tribunal for writing a letter to the editor of a local newspaper opposing the homosexualist agenda in schools.
While the election call has halted the passage of the bill, the HSLDA is warning parents that the proposed legislation is not necessarily dead forever.
“The Conservatives in Alberta have given many indications that they will be bringing this legislation back if they are elected for another term,” the association wrote.
Rob Anderson, Wildrose Education critic, warned the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) in a letter about the Progressive Conservative (PC) party’s ambition to resurrect the bill unchanged if they win the upcoming election.
“The PCs have decided they are committed to bringing this bill to the Legislature right after the election to pass,” Anderson wrote.
Anderson pointed out in the letter that the majority of the Education Act is “by and large a good Bill.” He noted that it “expands school choice especially regarding charter schools, takes on bullying in school, gives more autonomy to local school boards and does a whole lot of other things that will be very beneficial to our education system and that are in the Wildrose education platform.”
“It’s just the preamble and s.16 of the 200 page bill that need changing,” he wrote.
The Wildrose party brought forward two amendments to the preamble and to section 16 of the Act, but with a PC’s enjoying a massive 68-4 seat advantage, the amendments were both voted down.
The Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) was instrumental in organizing a peaceful protest at the Alberta Legislature against section 16 of the Act earlier this month. Over 2000 people attended the March 20th event to demand that the six words “and the Alberta Human Rights Act” be erased from the Act.
Anderson pointed out in his letter that the bill’s faltering during the days leading up to Monday’s election call was due in part to the pressure of AHEA’s protest campaign.
Anderson also pointed out that with the PC’s vote against Wildrose’s proposed amendments, the PCs have “alienated virtually every parent concerned with parental rights and the potential of human rights commissions forcing Catholic schools, faith based schools and homeschooling parents to teach issues contrary to their personal beliefs.”
With the April 23rd election day fast approaching, it remains to be seen which party Albertans will choose to lead their province.
A Leger Marketing survey conducted last week and commissioned by the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal showed a deadlock between Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservative party and Danielle Smith’s Wildrose party.
Leger’s Alberta vice-president Ian Large said that the “momentum at the moment favours Wildrose.”
A Forum Research poll conducted Monday suggested that the Wildrose party would win a majority government if the election was held this week.
Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff told the Edmonton Sun that the poll results show that Alberta is poised for sweeping change. His poll indicated that Wildrose would win 58 seats in the Alberta legislature, while the Progressive Conservatives’s seats would be diminished for a total of 22.
The Home School Legel Defence Association is encouraging its members to “very carefully consider their political choices in this election”.