Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says the United Conservative government will reveal parental rights legislation next week.
On Saturday’s episode of Your Province, Your Premier on 630 CHED and QR Calgary, Smith said, “There isn’t anything wrong with parents wanting to protect their children as long as possible from issues regarding sexuality.”
Smith continued to say there needs to be a “balance” between supporting children to form their own identities and parents having the right to know what is being taught in schools.
Smith made a speech last November to caucus members promising to protect parents’ rights. The United Conservative caucus overwhelmingly passed a motion requiring parental consent if a child under the age of 16 wishes to use a different name or pronoun at school, mirroring legislation recently passed in Saskatchewan that has drawn harsh criticism from LGBTQ2 advocates.
“Kids do get to the point where they make their own decisions,” Smith said on Saturday’s show.
“We’ve been having a lot of discussions about this as a caucus. We’ve been consulting very broadly about this. We’ll be releasing policy on this next week.
“I’m really hopeful that we can depoliticize the discussion and think about the kids who are listening to us as adults talking about these issues that are impacting them and figuring out the right balance.”
In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for the Alberta NDP said the party is aware of Smith’s comments on the radio show. The spokesperson added the party will issue a response to any policy brought forward.
If the legislation is passed, Alberta will be the second province in Canada to enshrine parental rights into law. Saskatchewan passed its Parents’ Bill of Rights and invoked a notwithstanding clause in October 2023.
The term “parental rights” has a long history in both the United States and Canada, particularly around LGBTQ2 issues, religion and language in schools.
Over the years, the term has been used by some parents and conservative politicians to limit sex education and discussions of gender identity in schools.
In Canada, those in favour of parental rights legislation often cite Section 2(a) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which says parents have the right to determine all aspects of their children’s education, including religious education.
— with files from Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press