Area United Conservative Party (UCP) MLAs Jason Nixon and Nathan Cooper say the party’s recent founding convention could mark an important step on the party’s road for election victory in 2019.
The Notley NDP says one of the resolutions passed at the convention shows the UCP to be intolerant and wholly unfit to form government.
Held in Red Deer last weekend, the convention saw speeches from party leaders and others, as well as the adoption of many policy statements.
One of those policy statements (RO30) adopted in a split vote 57 to 43 in favour, states: “The United Conservative Party believes that the Government of Alberta should reinstate parental opt-in consent for any subjects of a religious or sexual nature, including enrollment in extracurricular activities/clubs or distribution of any instructional materials/resources related to these topics.”
The resolution included a rationale statement, which declares that the resolution “Respects and affirms parental primacy and authority regarding the educational material presented to their children. “
The MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, Jason Nixon spoke and voted against the resolution, calling it unnecessary.
In a Gazette interview following the convention, Nixon said, “The Education Act already says that parents must give consent to sexual education and that is essentially what this motion said, so my point was I don’t know why we are wading into something that is already law and we going to create a situation where the NDP can continue their anger machine and spin up things that are not in the context of what our members are talking about.”
The MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, Nathan Cooper was not at the convention when RO30 was debated and voted on.
He later told the Gazette: “My position is that there should be no requirement for parental notification for those that belong to GSAs (gay-straight alliances). At the end of the day I don’t think there should be parental notification for belonging to a GSA as far as a peer group. I didn’t vote on the resolution and I remain consistent in my position with respect to GSAs. I think parents should not be notified for extracurricular activities, just as they are with other peer groups.”
Following the passage of RO 30, the NDP issued a media release stating, in part: “Hot on the heels of being banned from marching in the Pride Parade, this morning at the UCP policy convention delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of doubling down on the Conservatives' dangerous and out of touch views on LGTBQ issues.
“This policy (RO30) will effectively ban all young people from participating in a GSA without the express written consent of their parents. Research shows that GSAs save lives and this policy flies in the face not only of scientific evidence but of basic human decency as well.
“UCP Leader Jason Kenney first proposed outing gay kids to their parents over a year ago. The UCP caucus then voted down Bill 24, an Act to Strengthen Gay-Straight Alliances.”
Passed in the legislature last fall, Bill 24 makes it illegal for schools to inform parents if a student is a member of a GSA, which is a peer-support group.
Meanwhile, MLA Nixon said another resolution passed at the convention, RO146, will help the agricultural community in this district.
The resolution, which was put forward by Nixon’s riding association, reads: “The United Conservative Party believes that the Government of Alberta should return the employment standards of Alberta to pre-January 2018 rules including a total repeal of Bill 6.”
The rationale statement reads, in part: “There were some positive changes within the flawed bill that should remain in a new bill. Evaluate the recent changes to the Alberta Labour Act and the Farm and Ranch Workplace legislation with an eye to ensuring that all Albertans, both employer and employee, are considered as they are a symbiotic group and if one fails it will create problems for the other.”
Nixon says he believes getting rid of Bill 6 is a necessary step.
“I’m glad to see the member reiterate what we’ve said all along and that is that Bill 6 has got to go,” said Nixon. “A UCP government would remove Bill 6.”
MLA Cooper concurred with Nixon.
“I think we should continue in our position of repealing Bill 6,” said Cooper. “It’s a commitment that we made and I think it’s important that we keep that commitment.”
The NDP government says Bill 6, which brings non-family farm workers under Alberta occupational health and safety regulations, was needed to bring Alberta into line with other provinces.
The UCP was formed last year through the amalgamation of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Wildrose Party. Last weekend’s founding convention was the first time the party had officially discussed and adopted policies.
Following the convention, both MLA Cooper and MLA Nixon said the convention was important in bringing the new UCP together.
“The conservative movement is united and it’s very clear that conservatives are behind Jason Kenney,” said Nixon. “We are ready to do the hard work to make him premier in about a year.
“I think the convention was a huge step forward and a big rallying cry for conservatives. I think we will see a lot of good things come of the convention.”
MLA Cooper said he believes a lot of good came out of the convention.
“There were lots of incredible things that took place this weekend, with lots of incredible momentum for our party and the organization,” said Cooper. “There was lots of positive discussion and Jason (Kenney) laid out a plan and a vision for defending Alberta’s interest. I’m excited about the next year.”