It has been an ugly week for democracy in Alberta. The ramming of Bill 22 through every reading within three days by the United Conservative Party was an act of legislative arrogance that would have made Alison Redford blush.
On issues such as abortion, Jason Kenney was quite clear that neither he nor the UCP would open the issue up. His exact words are below:
“A United Conservative government will not address this issue, will not engage in this debate, will not initiate legislation.” ~Kenney
Well, here we are eight months later watching a UCP dominated committee discussing a bill modeled to impact abortion access which was put forth as a private members bill by a UCP member.
Conscience rights for medical providers are already protected within the Charter and by medical professional associations. There has been no indication of problems in the medical community with this issue. The Alberta Medical Association has come out in opposition to this bill. The bottom line is that this is a redundant piece of legislation which potentially opens the door for new ways to hinder the provision of medical services.
The United Conservative Party can regain at least a glimmer of credibility when it comes to democratic process if we see a true free vote among the members on this bill.
In saying free vote, I mean each and every elected member taking a stand one way or another on this bill. No sudden stomach ailments making members scoot out of the chamber at voting time. No scheduling conflicting events at voting time. I am saying show up and have it recorded where you stand on this issue. I will consider any member who doesn’t vote on Bill 207 as being in support of re-opening the abortion debate within Alberta.
A few UCP MLAs have already come out in opposition to this bill. I appreciate that and look forward to seeing more come out.
There is little to celebrate in this legislative session when it comes to democracy. One thing we can potentially look to as a democratic victory will be to see the party in power allowing a true free vote in the legislature on this bill.
The standing committee responsible just voted 8-2 in favor of killing Bill 207.
Now let’s see the collected MLAs vote freely in the legislature to definitively kill this odious bill.