Laurie Blakeman hopeful PCs and Wildrose will support Bill 202
Liberal MLA seeking support for anti-bullying bill
Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman is hopeful that the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative caucuses will back her private members bill aimed at protecting LGBT students from bullying.
Bill 202, the Safe and Inclusive Schools Act, was tabled in the Alberta legislature Thursday.
While the bill has the backing of the NDP, the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative caucuses haven’t indicated what they will do. Blakeman thinks they will come around.
- Student gay-straight alliances focus of private member's bill
- Gay-straight alliance motion defeated in Alberta Legislature
“I think in the end everyone will pass the test.” she said. “I think the bill will pass, but it’s a lot of my explaining between here and there to make sure that happens.”
If passed, Bill 202 would compel school boards to allow gay-straight alliances, student-run groups that aim to combat homophobia and provide support.
The bill also aims to repeal a controversial section of the Alberta Human Rights Act, that forces schools to notify parents whenever religion, sexuality or sexual orientation is discussed in the classroom.
Premier Jim Prentice said on Thursday that he needed to see the wording of the bill before he could comment.
Like Prentice, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said that she also wanted to take a closer look and meet with Blakeman about possible amendments.
Smith and members of her caucus used the word “balance” Thursday to describe how they were evaluating Bill 202.
“We also have to be conscious of the fact that parental rights are an issue and religious freedom and how is that all balanced in the actual text of the legislation,” she said. “I think there’s an answer.”
Blakeman said she kept the notion of balance in mind when preparing her bill. It has a provision allowing parents to take their children out of the classroom when religious or sex education is discussed.
Smith’s caucus colleague, Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Kerry Towle, said that she is not prepared to say how she would vote.
“It would be irresponsible of me to make a decision on how I would vote without seeing the legislation and going back to my constituents,” she said.
The bill will be up for discussion in early December.