Earlier this month, the United Conservative Party (UCP) passed policies directives that should form the framework for their platform next election. This was their chance to prove they’re a changed party, to pass policies that are more than just the regressive Wildrose stances of old. Unsurprisingly, they wasted that opportunity, with delegates opting instead to re-affirm that the party is still strongly rooted in social conservative values. It’s hard to understand how people think that the UCP’s 2019 election platform is going to look even moderately socially progressive, given their passing of a motion to reinstate opt-in consent for religious topics and sex-education in school.
You might not understand why I think this motion is problematic, both for the province and the UCP. Firstly, it’s quite possible a motion like this would be applied to GSAs and QSAs (gay-straight alliances and queer-straight alliances) on the grounds that they can include sexual topics. We know this is the case considering how controversial passing legislation prohibiting that very requirement in the first place was. That’s bad for obvious reasons, such as a kid wanting to join a GSA but their parents not being supportive, leading to tension at home or the kid not trying to join in the first place.
A UCP MLA literally said to delegates “this is about outing gay kids” (though I assume he meant queer and trans kids as a whole), which received both applause and boos. I hope the boos aren’t for the MLA condemning outing gay kids, and the applause is for the MLA’s courage to tell the membership they’ve lost their minds. Seeing as the motion passed with 57 percent approval, though, I don’t know what they could have been thinking. Even if Jason Kenney wants to give lip service about how this “won’t inform the party platform,” given his track record of leading the UCP to oppose all forms of socially progressive legislation, as well as there being a clear and strong social conservative element within the UCP he needs to appease to get elected, these words should be taken only as empty promises.
Additionally, this directive would dampen the impact of an updated sex-ed curriculum. One primary reason for updating the sex-ed curriculum would be that parents are likely not teaching their kids much about sex at home. If a parent doesn’t want to teach progressive views on sex-ed to their kids, it’s quite possible they won’t opt-in to having someone else teach those things to their kid either. Sex-ed shouldn’t be optional, and the idea that families should have rights to how it’s taught if at all to their kids when those decisions impact people outside their homes is ridiculous.
I’m glad only this motion got passed, unlike some of the crazier resolutions that never made the agenda such as a resolution saying “it is proven, known and intuitive that strong, loving, stable, committed, gender-balanced (traditional) families ensure the best health and well-being outcomes for children and therefore for society as a whole.” Jason Kenny and the UCP keep claiming their party has shifted away from social conservatism, but there’s been no evidence of that, except for the willingness of their queer membership to exist in a party that’s clearly hostile to them.
This may still be good old Alberta, conservative bastion of Canada, but times are moving forward. The UCP needs to wake up.