The fight to re-establish and bolster parental rights has spread far beyond the borders of red states and Eastern European nations. Among the various battlegrounds to see a decisive victory in recent days is the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
The prairie province introduced a policy in August upholding parental rights in taxpayer-funded classrooms. The usual suspects lashed out, but Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and his right-leaning Saskatchewan Party held firm, going so far as to invoke the “nuclear option” to pass and entrench the law on Friday.
What’s the background?
Moe’s government, handed an overwhelming majority and clear mandate by the electorate in 2020,
announced mid-summer new parental inclusion and consent policies aimed at protecting parental rights in the classroom.
In addition to temporarily cutting radical LGBT activist groups out of sex education in the classroom, the policy stipulated that if a child wants to identify as a member of the opposite sex in school, educators cannot affirm the delusion unless the student’s parents consent. This would help ensure that children are not transitioned with the help of educators behind parents’ backs.
The province’s former education minister said, “Our government has heard the concerns raised by Saskatchewan parents about needing to be notified and included in their children’s education in these important areas.”
The effort was immediately denounced and characterized as a threat to non-straight students.
The socialist New Democratic Party was among the radical factions to oppose the bill, with its provincial leader Carla Beck claiming, “Teachers will have to choose between shoving kids back in the closet or putting them in harm’s way,”
reported Global News.
Heather Kuttai, the head of the province’s so-called Human Rights Commission resigned in protest of the bill,
claiming, “Removing a child’s rights, in the name of ‘parental rights’ is fundamentally anti-trans and harmful.”
The LGBT activist group UR Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity successfully challenged the policy before a provincial court, securing a temporary injunction against the policy,
alleged in its application, “The policy presents an impossible choice: be outed at home or be misgendered at school, even in one-on-one counselling sessions with school personnel. … Either outcome entails devastating and irreparable harm to a vulnerable young person.”
The group wanted to leave such consequential decisions up to educators’ “professional judgment.”
Despite the backlash, the premier
made expressly clear in September, “We are not backing down.”
Notwithstanding the backlash
Saskatchewan Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill introduced the act to the legislature as
Bill 137 on Oct. 12, revealing that the province would invoke section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to see it through. This maneuver, called the “notwithstanding clause” or the “nuclear option,” allowed the province to override certain Charter rights with which the legislation might conflict, thereby protecting it from court challenges as well as challenges under the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
Cockrill, a member of the Saskatchewan Party, noted that extra to ensuring parents won’t be left in the dark about their kids’ possible sexual confusion, the legislation would enshrine various other parental rights ideologues might seek to erode or usurp. These include the right to:
- “act as the primary decision-maker with respect to the pupil’s education”;
- “be informed on a regular basis of the pupil’s attendance, behaviour and academic achievement in school”;
- “have access to the pupil’s school file”;
- be informed at least two weeks before sexual health content is presented to the pupils and withdraw, if desired, the pupil from the presentation of that content; and
- preclude educators and school staff from using their child’s “new gender-related preferred name or gender identity at the school.”
“Parents and guardians have a right to know what is being taught in their children’s school,”
said the province’s education minister, Jeremy Cockrill. “The Parents’ Bill of Rights is an inclusionary policy that ensures that parents are at the forefront of every important decision in their child’s life.”
On Friday, the legislature passed the bill in a 40-12 vote, eliciting cries from protesters. The legislation then received royal assent, thereby becoming the law of the land.
said after its enactment, the law “is providing parents the right, not the opportunity, to support their child through the formative years of their life and some very important decisions that our children are facing through those particular years.”
Defeated UR Pride executive director Ariana Giroux said, “We here at UR Pride are upsettingly unsurprised that the Government of Saskatchewan would force through legislation that would cause irreparable harm to children.”
Egale, the LGBT activist group that recently
argued in favor of Jordan Peterson’s re-education, said in a statement, “This is a dark day in Canadian history. We will remember this as the first time that an elected government has used the notwithstanding clause to limit the rights of children and young people as well as the first time that an elected government has done so with respect to 2SLGBTQI people.”
Harini Sivalingam, the director of the so-called equality program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, similarly bemoaned the restoration of parental rights,
calling the ratification of Bill 137 “a stain on the history of the province.”
Canadian state media
claimed earlier this year that Republicans in the U.S. are responsible for making parental rights “a legislative lodestar,” noting that in 2022, 95 parental rights bills were introduced in 26 states. According to CNN, between January 2021 and June 2023, state lawmakers had introduced nearly 400 parental rights bills.
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