Following the Morinville story lead me to following the stories around the new Education Act in Alberta as well. And in truth, it seemed like a good piece of legislation to me. It was so close to being passed, but then the call for an election halted its progress - due in large part to an effort by parents, who were concerned that teaching their kids about human rights, took away their rights to teach them whatever they wanted either in home schools or religious schools. See here, here, and here for more information.
However, I`m concerned that what is really happening is that forces, similar to those behind the religious right in the US, is trying to erode our public education system and our success as a country in protecting diversity and human rights. I`m sorry but if these kinds of movements and special interest groups means we`ll end up with Rick Santorums in Canada - then I`m not interested.
The Alberta Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are great legislation, not perfect, but pretty awesome. They do protect those rights that need it the most - yes, the rights of homosexuals, racial and ethnic minorities, and religious and nonreligious folks.
Parents don`t need to worry that they cannot teach their children their own religious views - those rights and freedoms are firmly protected.
From the Charter:
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:And so while if you believe that being homosexual is a sin - you have every right to believe that and express that - but you do not have the right to discriminate against homosexuals - because they are humans who have rights too - the right to believe they are NOT sinners and the right to express that - and the right to not be discriminated against on the basis of who they love.
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and(d) freedom of association.
So, does the religious right have the moral high ground here? Hello, they are protesting teaching human rights and canadian law to their children - somethings that the Minister of Education said the act won't even force them to do! Their religion has them questioning whether or not to uphold laws and legislation that protect everyone - and Canada's unique multi-cultural, plural society.
I find these enshrined rights to be full of values that I can support.
From the Charter
Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.From the Alberta Human Rights Act:
The Act goes on to clarify that freedom of belief and expression are protected. There is nothing wrong with teaching children about the laws, acts, and charter. It's typical social studies. The religious right is just wrong on this issue and I have to wonder - to what end?WHEREAS recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal andinalienable rights of all persons is the foundation of freedom,justice and peace in the world;WHEREAS it is recognized in Alberta as a fundamental principleand as a matter of public policy that all persons are equal in:dignity, rights and responsibilities without regard to race, religiousbeliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age,ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, familystatus or sexual orientation;WHEREAS multiculturalism describes the diverse racial andcultural composition of Alberta society and its importance isrecognized in Alberta as a fundamental principle and a matter ofpublic policy;WHEREAS it is recognized in Alberta as a fundamental principleand as a matter of public policy that all Albertans should share in
composition of society and that the richness of life in Alberta isenhanced by sharing that diversity; and
WHEREAS it is fitting that these principles be affirmed by theLegislature of Alberta in an enactment whereby those equalityrights and that diversity may be protected: