Tuesday, May 19, 2009
CALGARY — "A bill that has raised the spectre of Alberta parents hauling teachers before human rights tribunals is an offensive attempt to placate ultra right-wing conservatives, says the man whose legal crusade forced the province to rewrite its human rights legislation.
This weekend, Alberta's teachers slammed proposed new rules that would give parents sweeping rights to pull kids from classes on touchy subjects, and be notified in advance when lessons focus on religion, sexuality or sexual orientation.
The new measures were included as part of Bill 44, which enshrines gay rights in the province 11 years after they were imposed by the Supreme Court of Canada in a case that caused an ugly backlash in Alberta. In an interview yesterday, Alberta Culture and Community Spirit Minister Lindsay Blackett admitted that the provincial caucus wrote the school provisions into the bill as an olive branch to religious groups and conservative voters who might be offended by the province's move to codify gay rights.
"It doesn't hurt to have some balance on what you're bringing forward, so you can get some support from both ends of the political spectrum," he said.
The controversy is stark evidence of how the debate set off by Delwin Vriend continues to stir tension in the province today. In 1991, Mr. Vriend was fired from his science teacher job at Alberta's King's College, a Christian school, for being gay, at a time when sexual orientation was not included as grounds for discrimination in provincial legislation. He sought to change that and, when the Supreme Court ruled in his favour in 1998, it ensured that Alberta gays would receive protection from discrimination.
Yet for Mr. Vriend, who served as the most public face of the battles to modernize Alberta's human rights rules, the school provisions in Bill 44 run counter to much of what he fought for. The province's government had a chance to make a statement with symbolic importance, he said.
"It could have shown that Alberta is part of the modern world, that Alberta isn't the far south of the U.S. Unfortunately when we start to talk about being able to pull kids out of class for various reasons, including talk about gays and lesbians or evolution, that definitely points to a very backwards people," he said from Paris, where he now lives and works as a software engineer."
On Saturday, Alberta's teachers voted their agreement, passing a resolution that stridently opposes Bill 44. Provincial rules already allow students to be exempted from sex education and "religious or patriotic instruction," but educators across the province - a group that includes the Alberta School Boards Association, the Alberta School Councils' Association and the College of Alberta School Superintendents - say the bill would bring a chill over classrooms.
"You couldn't frame it in terms of the teachers' right to freedom of speech, because they can say what they want. It's just that the parents can say, 'Well, our kids aren't going to listen to it'," said Annalise Acorn, who teaches in the University of Alberta's faculty of law. source:http://www.theglobeandmail.com
Why should right-wing conservatives be able to have so much power in this province? This is supposed to be a province based upon on democratic principles, not religious ones! If right-wing parents do not want their children to be exposed to the entire public school school curriculum, then these parents are just instilling the basis for intolerance,discrimination and prejudice in their children. If they do not want to have their children in all of the school curriculum, then they should be required to set up their own school system at their own big expense, to teach their children their values,morals,and prejudices!
Like Mr.Vriend states, Alberta is going to be considered a "backward society" if right-wing religious-based people are able to dictate government policy! Not only a backward society, but more importantly an intolerant one, in which self-righteous hypocritical right-wing individuals and groups are allowed to dictate their morals, beliefs and values on the rest of us!
This is what happens when people in this province allow a Conservative Government and a conservative philosophy to prevail way too long here!!
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Thoughts worth thinking about
Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia
A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed
Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein
The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi
The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller
Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns
Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw
Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165
The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.