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Alberta Politics Alison Redford

alison redford: talking about human rights hunting

As the first session of the 27th Alberta Legislature continues, you just need to take a look around the Assembly floor to see some pretty impressive people. One of them happens to be Calgary-Elbow Tory MLA, Minister of Justice, and Attorney General Alison Redford. Though I was disappointed to see her defeat Craig Cheffins in the March election (I was the Communications Coordinator for the Alberta Liberals during the June 2007 Calgary-Elbow by-election), a quick glance at Redford’s resume even impresses this blogging skeptic.

As Graham Thomson put it in a recent column:

Redford has a jaw-droppingly impressive resume that includes work as a human rights lawyer in South Africa, the Balkans and Vietnam. In 2005, she braved the war zone that is Afghanistan to work as a United Nation’s Election Commissioner to promote democracy and free elections, something many Albertans take for granted given the record low 41-per- cent turnout for last month’s provincial election.

Redford has the credentials of a real Progressive Conservative, so, I was a little surprised when she began her term as Justice Minister by refusing to talk about the inclusion sexual orientation under the Alberta Human Rights Act. Ten years ago, in Vriend v. Alberta, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the non-inclusion of sexual orientation, as a prohibited ground of discrimination in Alberta’s Individual’s Rights Protection Act (now the Alberta Human Rights Act), infringed and denied the rights guaranteed by Section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Instead of being the responsibility of the Justice Minister & Attorney General, human rights issues apparently fall under the responsibility of Culture and Community Spirit Minister Lindsay Blackett. Let me get this straight, the government’s top lawyer now defers questions about Supreme Court rulings and human rights to the Minister in charge of arts and culture?

Even though Redford won’t (or isn’t being allowed) to talk about amending Alberta’s Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it seems that she doesn’t have a problem (or is being allowed) standing up on the Assembly floor to talk about the importance of killing small animals in Bill 201 – The Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Heritage Act.

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

Ms Redford: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I had not intended to speak in support of this bill, but I would like to thank my Hon. colleague from Cypress- Medicine Hat for introducing this bill.

Listening to the speeches that have been given today with respect to the importance of hunting, fishing, and trapping in our province, I was moved to speak. I have given a lot of thought over the years to these issues and respect the fact that as a government this province and this government have been able to develop a system where we have been able to responsibly manage the environment in such a way that Albertans that respect these traditions are able to participate fully in these traditions.

As I mentioned, it’s not something that I specifically have ever been involved in; I’m more of a hiker. However, what I would say is that when I look at the people in my constituency, in Calgary- Elbow, that talk about these issues, they are engaged in these issues. I think it would be a shame for us to think of this piece of legislation as only representing people that happen to live in rural areas. There are people in my constituency that are proud members of Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited. They are people that are passionate about environmental management. They are people that care about respecting the traditions of this province. I think one of the challenges that we have in the future in Alberta is to make sure that we can respect both the traditions of rural Alberta as well as the lifestyles of people who are living in the cities. I think this bill is a great example of how we can marry those two traditions and those two lifestyles.

So a very short speech. Thank you to my colleague, and thank you for the consideration today.

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