I just finished listening to a frustrating and circular interview of Lindsay Blackett on an Albertan radio show. While Blackett should be commended for being willing to respond to callers (most PC guests refuse to), he really did not have much of worth to say.
The subject was the contentious Bill 44 that is going before the legislature. Some months ago Blackett mused about the need to reform Alberta’s human rights act as section 3 was leading to infringements on free speech. Blackett was applauded by supporters of free speech and no opposition to this reform was heard.
Finally the day arrived when Lindsay Blackett presented the bill to reform the act and it looks like pretty much nobody was prepared for the idiocy contained within the bill. While the free speech amendments appeared roundly popular, Blackett was compelled to drop that aspect of reform. Protection of free speech is not a priority for the Stelmach Progressives. Alberta can look forward to more attacks on the press and individuals in the future by people claiming hurt feelings. Press can continue to feel the chill and activists can continue to abuse our tax funded human rights commissions in order to stifle contrary opinions.
I can understand why Special Ed Stelmach would like to curb free speech. Stelmach has been known to bully student bloggers who have dared mock him with legal threats. I am sure that Chairman Ed would like to expand his powers to suppress speech made by Albertans that he does not approve of. This move was sad but not surprising from a government that has little respect for democracy and discourse.
What is really odd with Blackett’s bill was the inclusion of parental rights regarding education. The hornet’s nest has been poked and opposition to this addition is coming from all directions whether teachers groups or civil libertarians. Fears of people taking teachers to the human rights commission over the teaching of evolution and other such examples are abounding. Alberta’s unfair reputation as being backwards or redneck is only getting more deeply entrenched now.
Getting back to the “why” of this. On the radio, Blackett kept downplaying the potential impact of this bill by pointing out that the Alberta School act already allows parents to remove their children from school if they feel the subject matter clashes with their religion. Uhh, OK. In that case, why do we need this added to the bill? The host kept asking and Blackett kept dodging. Blackett than pointed out that while there are over 2000 schools in Alberta, only 50 some people actually opted their kids out of any classes. Uhhhh OK. In that case why do we need this? Clearly it is a tiny minority that really even care on this issue. The host persisted on the why aspect and Blackett got increasingly flustered. The reason Blackett was flustered was that he really has no answer to the question of why we need this addition to our legislation.
Stubbornly our PCs push on, enduring heaps of abuse and having our province labelled as being populated by bumpkins (considering the bumpkin nature of our premier, we really did not need more of this).
From record deficits to needless controversy over unnecessary legislation, the Progressive Conservative government of Alberta is proving itself to be completely incompetent. To those who have been claiming for the last 8 years or so that the PCs can be reformed from within, give your heads a shake. The PC party is hopelessly inept.