While Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett used his Twitter feed to deem all Albertans opposed to his Bill 44 as unintelligent, Alberta’s 72 Progressive Conservative MLAs performed an Academy Award deserving reenactment of Jean Chretien‘s Federal Liberals by voting the Party line even after being promised a “free vote.”
Outnumbered 7 to 1, Alberta’s eleven opposition MLAs presented reasoned arguments last night while debating against sections of Bill 44 which would allow parents to pull their kids from classroom discussions on religion, sexuality and sexual orientation. Special kudos should be given to Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman, who tabled 84 letters voicing opposition from Alberta High School students and presented some of last night’s most solid arguments against the controversial sections of Bill 44.
Arguably for the first time, online social media created through networks like Twitter and Facebook played a substantial role in facilitating debate opposing legislation in the Alberta Legislature. While social media has allowed Alberta citizens outside the extreme minority that populate the official partisan and political realm to engage in debate and information sharing about Bill 44, only time will tell whether this action will lead to sustained increased citizen involvement, or if the lack of response from our distant traditional institution of a Legislative Assembly will add to the already prevalent culture of cynicism and distrust of the political process in our province.