Jason Kenney’s appeal to social conservatives targets Gay-Straight Alliances

Perhaps not completely understanding how much acrimony the Gay-Straight Alliance issue caused his party back in 2014, recently selected Progressive Conservative leader Jason Kenney brought the issue back to the forefront this week.

According to reports from Postmedia, when asked about Gay-Straight Alliances, Kenney told the editorial board of the Calgary Herald and Sun that he would allow schools to inform parents if their students join a Gay-Straight Alliance.

Gay-Straight Alliances are student-initiated clubs meant empower students to create safe environments in their own schools. A study from the University of British Columbia found that Canadian schools with GSAs may reduce the odds of suicidal thoughts and attempts among both sexual minority and straight students – which is why having schools track their involvement in these clubs and informing their parents is not just creepy but could be dangerous.

As Postmedia columnist Paula Simons wrote today, ”…why should publicly-funded schools treat GSAs differently than they’d treat any other student-led club? Why, that is, unless deep deep down, we still do believe that it is, in fact, a shameful, dangerous thing to be gay — or to associate with gay friends.”

Now that Kenney has secured the leadership of the PC Party, he is now effectively running for the leadership of the Wildrose Party – which he wants to merge his party into.

Kenney is known for his social conservative views and he shied away from publicly commenting on social issues during the PC leadership race. But now that he is running against Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean for the leadership of a new conservative party, we are beginning to see his open appeal to the party’s social conservative base.

While Kenney’s comments are directed toward social conservative voters he will need to win the leadership of a new conservative party, they are reckless. Allowing schools to “out” students to their parents would undermine the ability of Alberta students to create clubs that are proven to help make school environments more safe and welcoming for some of their classmates.

Crouse drops out of Liberal leadership race, Lukaszuk in?

Thomas Lukaszuk

Thomas Lukaszuk

The only candidate running for the leadership of the Alberta Liberal Party has dropped out two days before the nomination deadline.

St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse announced on his website that he was withdrawing from the race for personal reasons. Crouse’s candidacy would have been a big catch for the Liberal Party, which currently only has one MLA in the Alberta Legislature.

Rumours are swirling that Crouse’s departure could make way for former Tory MLA Thomas Lukaszuk to potentially enter the Liberal Party leadership race before the March 31 deadline. The former deputy premier and 2014 PC leadership candidate publicly trashed his PC Party membership card after Kenney won the party leadership on March 18.

The race is being held to choose a replacement for past leader Raj Sherman, another former Tory MLA who crossed the floor to the Liberals in 2011. He resigned as leader in January 2015.

9 thoughts on “Jason Kenney’s appeal to social conservatives targets Gay-Straight Alliances

  1. Mark

    Dave, I get a little uneasy when you wax poetic about how much ‘less conservative’ Alberta is compared to the past. It’s still pretty damn conservative.

    Really and truly, I believe Kenny could have mass appeal if his economic plan speaks to a plurality of Albertans. Social issues often get cast aside as a voting priority when economic pressures are front and centre.

    For how many people are GSA’s a decision factor? I imagine only the conservative base. Would anyone NOT vote for Kenny based on his GSA stance? My spidey sense says that if the economy is weak, his feelings on GSA’s won’t matter to most voters.

    Sad, but true. Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Adam

      Actually, polling data going back to the early 00’s indicates that Albertans, while the most “conservative” in Canada, were actually more left-wing than any group in the USA (Michael Adam’s Fire and Ice is basically my one source for this). I feel that Albertans, like people in most countries, were content to allow a government unrepresentative of their core interests and values so long as the money came in.

      I must also argue that province itself is not necessarily conservative. Rather, there is an incredibly conservative political elite in the province. They are the the leftovers of the Alberta Report, Western Standard, and postmedia news outlets in the province. However, they are less and less representative of the province at large. Were it not for their media monopoly, this would be more apparent.

      Reply
  2. Calgary Watcher

    Kenney doesn’t have kids. I bet he has little to no idea how schools in Alberta actually work. Asking teachers to track their students’ sexuality is a gross breach of trust.

    Reply
  3. Fred Ziffel

    Since Christian teaching is very clear on the sinfulness of homosexuality, it seems that Minister Eggen is doing the only thing he can do – purging Christians from public life, public education, and now private education.

    Separation of church and state is such a bother – rationalistic humanism has clearly won the day so a religious test via the media for aspiring office holders like Jason Kenney seems entirely appropriate.

    Out – like tolerance and religious freedom in Alberta.

    Reply
    1. David

      Kenney was obviously quite busy in Ottawa for the last 20 or so years trying to entice ethnic voters in Toronto and Vancouver to the Federal Conservatives, so it is likely he missed most of the whole big GSA debate Alberta had a few years ago. It probably did not get detailed coverage in the Toronto, Ottawa or Vancouver newspapers, like it did here. In a nutshell, it was his own PC Party (yes, the one he wants to get rid of, but it still exists at this point and it is the only party he is a leader of right now) that brought in GSA’s in response to public pressure. However, I suppose this is part of what he means when he says or implies the PC party is too progressive for him.

      On a related note, I believe Mr. Lucaszuk was a part of that PC government and now appears to have left the PC’s for the Liberals. I can see Mr. Kenney’s strong social conservative views alienating more Albertans than he will gain in support of them. I can understand him wanting to appeal to Wildrose supporters for his immediate political benefit right now, but even many Wildrose members understand this is not a winning issue for them and views of Wildrose of being overly religous and too socially conservative have kept their party from winning more support in urban Alberta.

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    1. Dave

      Never married, no kids that we know of and I think he said he was celibate at one time. Might meet many of the criteria. Perhaps its the position he is more suited for.

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  4. Truth

    The above comment is by an absolute bigot. Who cares if Kenney has no kids or has 8 kids? Has nothing to do with his ability to lead.

    Reply
  5. naomi

    I find it strange that the media goes crazy over a politician stating that he wants trusts and supports the majority of parents to do the best for their kids and SAY NOTHING over the GSA website that was allowing kids as young as 5 years old to view explicit sexual material about sucking genitals, bondage, having multiple partners and other inappropriate information. I am concerned that the ‘ZEBRA’ sex ABC’s seemed geared to children and youth by artistic graphics and juvenile language. When this ‘oversight’ was brought to the attention of Eggan Dr. Wells (the person who was to oversee the 30,000 dollar government funded website) the most attention we got was a small article where Dr.Wells said it was ‘challenging’ to make sure all the links on his site were safe!!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!! You get paid 30,000 dollars to keep vulnerable at risk kids safe and you throw those extremes views upon them??? Really how much does Eggan and Dr.Wells care about our kids? Obviously not enough to actually make sure that their GSA website is safe. As a parent who works with vulnerable children I am offended that the government is assuming that they can do a better job!!! I was raised in a VERY loving supportive home. I was sexually abused once when I was 16. I did not tell my parents even though I knew I should and that they would help me heal. I didn’t because it was so awkward? Who wants to talk about sex with their parents (and my parents were super open about sex). Not I! Definitely not any of my friends. Sure we would talk about it (in crude ways) but heaven forbid if our parents broached the subject. I was very lucky that the incident only happened once, was quick and I had had YEARS of positive reinforcement in my life so I recovered. So no, not all children, in fact few children feel like discussing sexuality with their parents, or if they are getting bullied at school. Teachers need to work with the parents to keep them safe.

    Reply

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