Monday, August 10, 2009

Will Bill 44 Be Debated at the Alberta PC Party AGM in November?

I found out that my suggestion to the Edmonton Glenora PC constituency association to submit a resolution to the Party AGM to repeal the classroom opting out provisions of the new Alberta Human Rights Act, best known as Bill 44, did not make the cut.

There were 4 options presented to the Board members to choose from. After a number of emails trying to find out what happened. I saw the constituency President at the Folk Festival on Thursday night and she told me the results. The Bill 44 repeal resolution was dead last in the Glenora constituency board voting priority. I am not surprised but I am sure disappointed.

It now looks like the last chance to have an AGM debate by the membership of the PC Party on Bill 44 is if the Whitemud constituency makes it happen. But that is not a sure thing either. The party rules are a limit of 2 resolutions per constituency. The Bill 44 resolution in Whitemud was tied for second place with another resolution. So the Whitemud constituency will have to break the tie. The Bill 44 option could be lost in the tie breaker vote.

This is a model example of the problem with party politics. They exist primarily to pursue and preserve political power. That power presumption sometimes trumps things like having a healthy public debate based on competing values and for the sake of good governance. I recall back in the day when Stockwell Day promoted a party resolution to de-insure abortions in Alberta's health care coverage. The resolution was presented, debated, voted on and defeated. The party was stronger for it.

If the PC party accepting that Bill 44 is preferred law and therefore it is not worth debating further, I can accept that. I suppose one can take it on faith that this is the will of the party because no constituency has yet to come forward conclusively to want to test the wisdom of Bill 44 in a resolution debate and a vote. It is very clear that party resolutions are not binding on the Stelmach government. They are merely advice and influential information at best.

That said what are other Albertans to think about the PC Party when people in it will not step up to the plate to speak their minds on contentious issues and government laws? Heaven knows we have seen lots of pressure to abolish the Alberta Human Rights Commission but certain people, many I expect are in the PC Party. That is well established law and a move to throw out the baby with the bath water.

Ironically everyone on all sides of the Alberta political spectrum agreed that the hate speech provisions of the Human Rights legislation in Alberta should go but it survived the legislation review process. GO figure. That must be an example of the old joke that you don't really what to know how sausages or how laws are made.

What are political parties good for as institutions in the larger scheme of our democracy if not to find their truths and to bring their truth to the powers that be in their party and the government. All it can do is make them better and stronger.

It is clear to me that the powers that be in the PC party and the PC government clearly want the embarrassment of Bill 44 to be forgotten and to just go away, rather than to try and fix the mistake. That is a naive political hope. It will not happen. This travesty will not be forgiven or forgotten by the majority of Albertans who find Bill 44 to be a discriminatory unnecessary and abusive law.

I guess fixing this problem is now up to the citizens of Alberta. The next opportunity for that correction of Bill 44 to happen will be in 3 more years; at the next election. Thanks to Bill 44 an awful lot of serious damage can happen to our schools, our children, our education system and out teachers between then and now.