This is a follow up post to this one.
Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta’s minister of education was pushed by a small number of members of his caucus into accepting an amendment to Bill 2, the Alberta Education Act. Lukaszuk has so far refused to alter section 16, which has the potential of surrendering education to the mischief of the human rights commission.
Here is the amendment (PDF):
The Preamble is amended as follows by adding the following before the enacting clause:
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta recognizes that parents have a right to choose the religious and ethical traditions in which their children are raised; that a child’s education begins in the home; that parents play a foundational role in the moral and spiritual formation of their children; and that these principles are reflected in the commitment of the Government of Alberta to provide parents with choice in education, including public schools, private schools and home education programs;
This is a nice addition and will not hurt Alberta pupils anywhere to have these things recognized in the preamble, but the Preamble is not legislation. It does not have the force of law. The preamble is poetry, which serves to indicate the intentions of the legislators. But we have seen for decades now that courts are seldom self-limiting and have a tendency to expand their power by “reading” things they like, or things they like the legislation to say, into legislation. They have not been generous in taking into account the intentions of legislators.
Both the Alberta premier and the education minister have said that they are not interested in getting into people’s homes. That’s a relief. But the problem will not be elected officials openly trampling people’s rights. If Lukaszuk or Redford were to do something that silly, the public would push back.
But when things that are improperly set from the start are implemented by faceless government officials, there is no focal point, no one to complain to, and it may take years to reverse wrong doing or even to stop it. Politicians don’t like controversy and tend to hide behind notions like ‘it’s the law’ and ‘it’s the process.’ That is certainly what they have done in most of the numerous cases where the human rights commissions have gone off the rails across the country.
To make the point, then, the Lukaszuk amendment is meaningless. The legislation remains highly susceptible to the mischief of the human rights commissions, a good deal of which has been documented in an excellent paper Barry Cooper wrote for Frontier (found here) in 2009.
If Alison Redford and her government are really worried about protecting the rights of Alberta school children, and the rights of all Albertans for that matter, the last institution they should invoke in such strategy is the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
Bill2 is wrong for Alberta’s education system.
Note: If you didn’t read the preceding post on this question, you should. It offers a glimpse of the way in which the Bill will likely derail Alberta’s education.