Disgruntled NB PC Party members fail to trigger Higgs leadership review
Disgruntled NB PC Party members fail to trigger Higgs leadership review

Disgruntled members of the New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Party have failed to trigger a leadership review of Premier Blaine Higgs.

As reported by The Canadian Press, PC Party executive director Andrea Johnson said members failed to submit 50 valid letters requesting a review – including at least from 20 PC riding associations presidents.

Higgs will remain Premier without internal challenges to his leadership.

The push to oust the Higgs came amid him taking a strong but controversial stance on parental rights. 

In June, the New Brunswick government announced changes to education policy 713, which, among other things, require that children under the age of 16 receive parental consent before they can officially change their name or pronouns at school.

The policy change outraged trans activists, supporters of gender ideology and Liberal politicians.

It was also met with opposition from some Progressive Conservatives. Two PC cabinet ministers resigned over the ordeal, while some party members began organizing to have a leadership review. 

Dissidents claimed their opposition to Higgs was also based on “a pattern of autocratic leadership over the past three years.”

In July, disgruntled members said that they had submitted what they believed were the required letters to trigger a review. However, PC Party president Erika Hachey determined “that the requirements have not been satisfied.” 

Hachey gave disgruntled members until Aug. 19 to submit the remaining letters, a deadline which was later extended to Aug. 26.

As previously reported by True North, several PC Party executives believed the “silent majority” stood with Premier Higgs, amid strong support in the province for his stance on gender identity. 

The Higgs government has doubled down on its support of parental rights, and clarified that the name change policy applies to name use by teachers in the classroom. 

“Formal use of preferred first name refers to the preferred first name and/or pronoun(s) that has been identified by a transgender or non-binary student to be used for record-keeping purposes, daily management (school software applications, report cards, class lists, etc.), classroom interactions and extracurricular and co-curricular activities (by staff, teachers and coaches),” reads the clarified policy.

New Brunswick Education Minister Bill Hogan said, “We stand by the changes we’ve made to Policy 713 and we believe that parents should be involved in every aspect of a young child’s education.” 

“I think having parental involvement in education is a national issue,” he added. “It’s clearly more than just that – it’s an international issue. I mean, most people believe that parents have an active role to play in their child’s education.”

Other Conservative premiers have since joined New Brunswick in supporting parental rights and consent around the gender identity of children at school.

Saskatchewan announced last week that they too would be mandating parental consent for pronoun and name changes of children under the age of 16.

Meanwhile, Ontario education minister Stephen Lecce said, “parents must be fully involved” if their child wants to use a different pronoun at school. Manitoba Progressive Conservative Premier Heather Stefanson also said parents should be informed if their child is wanting to identify as a different gender at school. She is pledging to enhance parental rights if re-elected this fall.

Federally, Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre has said schools should leave conversations about gender issues to parents and that parents should decide what is taught to their kids. “Parental rights come before the government’s rights,” said Poilievre.

A poll released by the Angus Reid Institute found that 78% of Canadians believe parents should be informed if their kid wants to change names or pronouns at school. Just 14% believe schools should hide the latter from parents.

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