The United Conservative Party’s stance on Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) was the subject of heated debate Sunday.
Speaking to reporters outside the Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer on Sunday where the UCP held its Founding AGM, David Eggen says the UCP have shown this weekend they can’t be a ‘big tent’ party, only a ‘special interest party’.
“We’ve worked very hard to create a safe and caring environment for students here in the province and just by passing this today, they’ve made a more dangerous and unsafe place for kids in schools,” Eggen stated.
“That uncertainty, that sense of ‘outing’ kids if they choose to join a GSA, that’s completely unacceptable and it’s out of step with the vast majority of Albertans who want to be accommodating and create a safe and caring environment for all kids in our schools.”
Eggen was referring to a UCP policy resolution approved by 57 per cent of conference delegates that says parents should be told when their child is involved in any subjects of a religious or sexual nature, including enrolment in extracurricular activities or social clubs like GSA’s.
“Those same MLA’s that voted against GSA’s and protecting kids from being ‘outed’ by parents or Jason Kenney, they were pleading for members to not vote for this,” Eggen implored. “You saw Ric McIver and others, they actually voted against the GSA policy in the legislature, so that shows an uncaring attitude towards children but it also shows fundamental dishonesty in regards to their behavior today, trying to go against the very thing that they did in the legislature when it counted.”
McIver, UCP MLA for the Calgary-Hays riding, disputes that claim and says the position of the party and their caucus is that they support GSA’s.
“Our position is, we are for the privacy of the kids in those gay-straight alliances,” McIver says. “I thought the wording there and I think the fact that I’m standing here is some evidence of the fact that those that aren’t our supporters could torque and twist this into saying something other than what our position is and for that reason I tried to get people to not support it.”
As for Kenney, he later told reporters the UCP will never take the position that there should be mandatory notification of parents regarding their child’s involvement in GSA’s or other peer groups.
“Let me be absolutely stone-cold clear, a United Conservative government will not be changing law or policy to require notification of parents when kids join GSA’s. We will not do that. You can take that to the bank.”
Kenney says the resolution is badly worded and adds that some parents have legitimate concerns about content primarily or explicitly dealing with religion or human sexuality being taught without their knowledge or consent.
“I will take the resolutions adopted today as important input but I hold the pen on the platform,” states Kenney. “I will make decisions in our platform where it is a balanced, mainstream platform that reflects the values and priorities of most Albertans. That platform and our governing approach will not ever include mandatory notification of peer groups, including gay-straight alliances which we support 100 per cent.”
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