Alberta Votes

Gordon Dirks gay-straight alliance claims provoke Twitter backlash

Calgary-Elbow PC candidate Gordon Dirks is getting a lot of backlash on social media over some claims he makes in an election pamphlet listing his accomplishments in office.

Calgary PC candidate says as education minister he made sure students can have GSAs

Some people are shaming Gordon Dirks on Twitter for taking credit for bringing gay-straight alliances to Alberta schools in his election campaign. (CBC)

Calgary-Elbow PC candidate Gordon Dirks is getting a lot of backlash on social media over some claims he makes in an election pamphlet listing his accomplishments in office.

Dirks says as education minister he "made sure that every student who wants a gay-straight alliance will get one."

That provoked a barrage of rebuttals online — where Dirks also posted the pamphlet — from people who say he was in fact a late convert on the GSA debate.

The original version of Bill 10, the legislation first introduced last fall concerning school clubs for gay and lesbian students, would have allowed school boards to block students from forming the clubs.

Students would have had to go to court to overturn a refusal.

Facing widespread public backlash and internal party dissent, the government introduced an amended version of the bill in December that said if a school board refuses to allow a GSA, the minister of education would intervene on the students' behalf.

But the revised bill, introduced by PC MLA Sandra Jansen, stirred more controversy when she appeared to suggest the clubs might have to meet off school property in some cases.

The next day Premier Jim Prentice put the bill on hold for more consultation.

Last month a revamped version of the bill was reintroduced that makes it mandatory for school boards to allow GSAs in any school where students want one.

Dirks skips debate

Dirks was also criticized earlier this week for skipping an education forum in Calgary-Elbow.

"I just find it quite shameful," said high school teacher Sandi Nichol.

Jenny Regal, past president of the Alberta Teachers' Association Local 38, says the minister's absence is an indication of his attitude toward teachers.

"Speaks volumes in his non-presence. I'm not sure he cares," she said.


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