Jason Kenney says education minister lobbing 'rhetorical bombs'
Jason Kenney says David Eggen is seeking conflict with resistant school boards on LGBTQ policy issue
Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Jason Kenney is accusing Alberta's education minister of "lobbing rhetorical bombs" at schools resistant to the LGBTQ policies outlined in Bill 10.
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Kenney took aim at Education Minister David Eggen during a rally in Edmonton on Wednesday night.
"I'm just suggesting that the minister and his officials should not seek conflict in the media," he told reporters after the event. "If they have a concern or issue with individual schools, they should discretely and with respect and civility sit down and try to find a solution."
Kenney waded into the debate about Bill 10 earlier this month, after the Baptist Christian Education Society said it would not comply with the government's guidelines and legislation.
Bill 10 requires all school boards to allow its students to form gay-straight alliances. Further, each board has to create a policy to support and protect LGBTQ students.
The resistant Baptist Christian Education Society operates two private schools in Edmonton, with roughly 200 students between them. About 60 to 70 per cent of the schools' instructional funding is from the province.
Pastor Brian Coldwell, chair of the society, publicly accused Eggen of wielding "dictatorial power."
At the same time, he criticized opposition parties for failing to protect "fundamental freedoms" of religion and association by not resisting the legislation — which was unanimously passed in 2015 by Alberta's then-Conservative government.
Eggen set a Sept. 16 deadline by which the society must submit written assurance to him that it won't flout provincial legislation. He hasn't specified any consequences, but said withdrawing funding is one option.
I just don't think it's helpful for the Minister to be lobbing rhetorical bombs at independent schools in the media. I don't think that gets any of us any further.- Jason Kenney , Member of Parliament
As for Kenney, he says Eggen should speak personally with Coldwell and his society to find a compromise between provincial legislation that protects LGBTQ students, and the religious freedoms of publicly funded schools.
"I just don't think it's helpful for the Minister to be lobbing rhetorical bombs at independent schools in the media. I don't think that gets any of us any further," he said.
"These are very sensitive issues and I think they should just deal with them sensitively and discreetly."
When asked what that compromise should look like, Kenney answered the province needs to make that decision with schools. He was unavailable to answer follow-up questions.
Kenney will step down as the MP for Calgary Midnapore next Friday.