UCP Education Critic Smith slams the content and timing of Bill 24

By Laine Mitchell (Twitter: @Laine_Mitchell)
November 8, 2017 - 1:28pm

United Conservative Party MLA and Education Critic Mark Smith is voicing his disapproval of the legislation known as Bill 24, which would prevent schools from telling parents when their child has joined a gay-straight alliance (GSA) or similar clubs.

"These kind of decisions are not best made by politicians that are sitting in the house a long ways away from students and schools and parents," said Smith. "We believe educators should be left to use their discretion and powers to make decisions about what is in the best interest and safety of the children they teach."

Smith said there are parts of the bill that the UCP supports like GSA's, Bill 10 and the idea that gay children should not be outed. 

He again expressed a concern he first raised on Tuesday in the Alberta Legislature regarding the treatment of children included in the bill. 

"I don't think that it is wise that this legislation treats five year olds the same as 17 year olds and as a teacher and a parent we understand that you can't just place all of those children in the same peril." Smith added, "As children grow they begin to understand and gain the capacity to make better decisions and good decisions in their lives."

He also slammed the timing of the new bill as the UCP begins to get it's footing in the legislature, calling it a deliberate politicial move. 

"We believe that there are times where politics sometimes takes precedence over the lives of children. The government believes this is an opportune time before our leader gets into the house to defend himself."

Smith went on to hammer Premier Rachel Notley on her unwillingness to call a by-election so UCP leader Jason Kenney can run to attempt to get into the house.

"I would love to see the Premier take her responsibilities seriously. There is no reason she couldn't call a by-election, if she doesn't it's only for political reasons." 

UCP house leader Jason Nixon confirmed Tuesday UCP MLAs will not be told by the party leadership how to vote on Bill 24, with Smith saying he will oppose the bill. 

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