Tag Archives: Gay Rights

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.

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat Cardston Warner

Glen Motz wins Conservative nomination in Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner

Glen Motz will be the Conservative Party of Canada candidate in the upcoming federal by-election in the riding of Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner. Mr. Motz defeated five other men, including former Wildrose Party leader and Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Paul Hinman, in a contest that drew more than 3,100 party members to vote. The candidate was chosen on a fourth round of voting using a preferential ballot system.

Paul Hinman Wildrose Calgary

Paul Hinman

Mr. Motz is a long-time community volunteer in Medicine Hat who served in the local police service for 35 years before retiring as an Inspector in December 2015. According to his online bio, in 2013, Governor General David Johnston presented him with The Order of Merit of Police Forces.

He also has some social conservative views that are probably closer to the mainstream in this sprawling rural south east Alberta riding than they are in most of Canada.

I’m pro-life, there’s no question. Unfortunately it’s the law of the land in this country,” Mr. Motz is reported to have told a crowd of supporters at a candidate’s forum in June 2016. “I will continue to fight that the rights of the unborn are not eroded further. I believe in the sanctity of life.

Women’s reproductive rights and gay rights were some of the top issues debated by a field of white male candidates in the last nomination contest held in this riding in 2014.

The Liberals, New Democrats and Greens have not yet nominated a candidate.

Following the death of Conservative Member of Parliament Jim Hillyer on March 23, 2016, Elections Canada has announced that a by-election must be called in Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner before September 26, 2016. The earliest a by-election could have been held was May 16, 2016.

Stephen Harper Calgary Stampede

Stephen Harper

This is one of the most reliably Conservative voting ridings in Canada, so it is almost a certainty that Mr. Motz will be the next Member of Parliament. Mr. Hillyer earned 68.8 percent of the vote when he was re-elected in October 2015.

Calgary-Heritage

Another federal by-election is expected to be held in the Calgary-Heritage riding if former Prime Minister Stephen Harper resigns as an MP later this summer as predicted. The names of a handful of potential nominees for the Conservative nomination have been rumoured, including Calgary-Hays Progressive Conservative MLA Ric McIver.

While it is expected that the Conservatives will easily hold on to this riding, the Liberals did see their share of the vote skyrocket from 7 percent in the 2011 election to 26 percent in the 2015 election (the Conservative vote in this riding dropped from 74.3 percent in 2011 to 63.7 percent in 2015).

Brendan Miles Liberal Calgary-Heritage by-election

Brendan Miles

The Liberals also saw their vote share increase significantly in four federal by-elections held in Alberta before the 2015 election, including in Calgary-Centre in 2012. Without the appeal of an incumbent Conservative MP or a sitting Prime Minister, the Liberals could see their vote increase in this by-election as well.

He does not appear to have officially declared his intentions to run for the Liberal Party nomination, but past candidate Brendan Miles has been knocking on doors in the riding for months and the local Liberal association is holding a pancake breakfast during the Calgary Stampede.

Calgary-Midnapore

And of course, if Jason Kenney does indeed decide to make a jump into provincial politics, there would also be a by-election held in the federal riding of Calgary-Midnapore.

Perhaps in anticipation of a surprise by-election, the local Liberals in this riding have scheduled an organization and training session for July 20, 2016.

Gay Rights, Abortion big issues at Conservative nomination debate in Medicine Hat

Jim Hillyer MP Lethbridge Medicine Hat

Lethbridge MP Jim Hillyer is running for the Conservative nomination in the newly created Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding.

The Medicine Hat News reports that women’s health issues and the rights of sexual minorities were the hot topics at a debate between Dan Hein and MP Jim Hillyer, the two candidates running for the Conservative Party of Canada nomination in southern Alberta’s newly redistributed Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding.

“…I’m not interested in somebody parading in front of me their sexual preferences, whether hetero or anything else … I don’t believe it is proper form, I don’t believe it benefits anyone to bring this stuff out in garrish fashion and parade it in the public square.”

Hein added he doesn’t believe a restaurant owner should be obliged to serve a person whether it’s the way he cuts his hair or “any reason.”

In response to the same question, Hillyer said, “a lot of the trouble with the social and moral issues is the people who don’t share our views on these issues are very clever and very sly. They hijack our language — it’s like 1984 newspeak or doublespeak.”

The Medicine Hat News also reported that Mr. Hillyer told the crowd he was “wildly and boldly” opposed to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

Mr. Hein is the past-president of the local Conservative riding association and was campaign manager to retiring Conservative MP LaVar Payne. Mr. Hillyer is a first-term MP for Lethbridge and is seeking the nomination in the new Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding because of boundary changes.

In the 2011 election, Mr. Payne received 71.3% of the total vote in the Medicine Hat riding. His closest challenger, New Democrat Dennis Perrier, placed a distant second with 13%. Mr. Hillyer received 56.5% of the vote in Lethbridge in the 2011 election. His closest challenger, New Democrat Mark Sandilands, earned 27.2%.

Conservative Party members in the riding will begin voting for their next candidate on Thursday.

Cheer for the athletes but don’t be naive: the Olympics are about politics

The mascots for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.

The mascots for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.

National leaders covet the opportunity to host the international event and multi-national corporations invest billions of dollars in advertising to its massive world-wide audience. Competing in glorious national stadiums and sports centres in between commercial breaks, the athletes appear to be little more than commodities. Make no mistake, the Olympic Games are political by nature.

Controversy over Russia President Vladimir Putin‘s support for deplorable laws targeting Russia’s LGBT community has caused a media storm in advance of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

These laws have led many commentators, human rights advocates and celebrities to call for western countries to boycott of the Sochi Games.

The University of Alberta’s Kristopher Wells has argued that Canada should boycott the Sochi Games:

Given the ongoing and deeply tragic human rights abuses occurring in Russia, an Olympic boycott is not only necessary, it is of vital international importance. A boycott is not simply a message to Russia, it is a powerful statement to the world. There must be human rights for all, or there can be human rights for none. We are one world, with one heart and one love regardless of sexual orientation.

Critics of a boycott point to the negligible impact that western countries had when choosing not to send their athletes to the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics. Others suggest that the public attention raised by the Sochi Olympics could “ease the plight” of Russia’s gay community.

With less than ten days before the Sochi Games’ opening ceremonies, there is little reason to believe that any western country will ask their athletes to boycott the events.

As repugnant as these laws are, the western world should not be shocked. Russia is not a liberal country and the legacy of the Soviet Union and the brutality of its government is real. The Putin government has a long history of human rights violations, cracking down on opposition critics, exploiting migrant workers and limiting press freedom.

Six years ago, I decided to personally boycott of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. I did my best to avoid television coverage the Beijing Games and did not shy away from writing about why I took that position.

The People’s Republic of China is notorious for its poor human rights record and its tendency to stifle freedom of speech among its citizens. I chose not to reward the People’s Republic’s public relations opportunity with my attention.

I am undecided whether I will extend a personal boycott of the Sochi Games. If I do choose to boycott, it will be in protest of the Russian government’s oppressive government. But I also feel a general indifference towards the entire event.

The $50 billion price-tag for the Sochi Games seems so needlessly excessive that perhaps it is time the purpose of the Olympic Games needs to be rethought. The “spirit of the Olympic Games” that we hear about every two years may live in the hearts of the athletes and their families, but it’s a reality that quickly diminishes when you put some thought to it.

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Back to Alberta politics… the Court of Queen’s Bench has ordered a temporary stay on the controversial Public Service Salary Restraint Act (formerly known as Bill 46). This judicial decision temporary delays the planned January 31 implementation of the new anti-labour law which would allow the Redford Government to bypass the neutral arbitration process and impose a contract on public service employees represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees. The judge will return with his decision on February 14.