Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Alberta Amendments To Human Rights Code Tabled

I see that Blackett has tabled Bill 44, his overhaul of the Alberta Human Rights law.

It's not as awful as I was expecting. Some of what I had heard Blackett musing about in past weeks sounded suspiciously like a resurrection of Morton's private member's bill of 2006. However, relatively little of that seems to have survived the initial drafting of the legislation.

As required by the Vriend ruling of 1998, the province will at long last include sexual orientation in its human rights legislation explicitly, instead of being a court-ordered read-in.

Other than that, the only thing that Blackett included from Morton's bill 208 is an explicit parental exemption if certain subjects are being taught in classrooms. (and it is a comparatively limited exemption).

Notice to parent or guardian
11.1(1) A board as defined in the School Act shall provide
notice to a parent or guardian of a student where courses of
study, educational programs or instructional materials, or
instruction or exercises, prescribed under that Act include
subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or
sexual orientation.
(2) Where a teacher or other person providing instruction,
teaching a course of study or educational program or using the
instructional materials referred to in subsection (1) receives a
written request signed by a parent or guardian of a student that
the student be excluded from the instruction, course of study,
educational program or use of instructional materials, the
teacher or other person shall in accordance with the request of
the parent or guardian and without academic penalty permit the
(a) to leave the classroom or place where the instruction,
course of study or educational program is taking place or
the instructional materials are being used for the duration
of the part of the instruction, course of study or
educational program, or the use of the instructional
materials, that includes the subject-matter referred to in
subsection (1), or
(b) to remain in the classroom or place without taking part
in the instruction, course of study or educational
program or using the instructional materials.

In some respects, I'm actually a little surprised by the modest breadth of this set of changes. There's been more than a little agitation for more drastic changes to the legislation, and the summary of the government's rationale, especially with respect to Section 3 is surprisingly in line with my own concerns about simply striking that from the legislation.

I'm quite sure that as I breathe a bit of a sigh of relief that this legislation is not as odious as it could have been, that Ezra Levant is near apoplexy right now.

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