Smith touts support for parental rights at UCP AGM but stops short of promising legislation
Smith touts support for parental rights at UCP AGM but stops short of promising legislation

Premier Danielle Smith got a standing ovation for her nod to parental rights in a speech to supporters, though isn’t prepared to commit to offering up any new legislation.

At the United Conservative Party’s annual general meeting Saturday, Smith was clear in her commitment to parents.

“Regardless of how often the extreme left undermines the role of parents, I want you to know that parental rights and choice in your child’s education is and will continue to be a fundamental core principle of this party, and this government, and we will never apologize for it,” said Smith. “Parents are the primary caregivers and educators of their children.”

Even so, she refrained from committing to new legislation that would echo recent moves by Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

The meeting, hosted at the BMO Centre in Calgary, witnessed an unprecedented turnout with nearly 3,800 delegates, making it the largest provincial party AGM in Alberta’s 118-year history and potentially the largest in Canadian history, Smith said. 

Speaking to reporters after her speech, Smith explained that Alberta already has parental rights embedded in the Education Act, allowing parents to opt their children out of matters that cover sexuality and religion. Anything further would require buy-in from her caucus and the province.

“We have to take that back as a caucus discussion and then also consult Albertans as a whole,” she said.

Reflecting on the broader implications of parental involvement, Smith added, “We cannot have a successful province or a successful society without strong and nurturing families.” 

At the meeting, members adopted a policy requiring teachers, schools, and school boards obtain written consent from parents prior to changing the name and/or pronouns used by a student—the policy passed by a large margin.

This policy was one of thirty debated and voted upon at the gathering.

Although members voted in favour of this resolution, this endorsement is non-binding on the government.

However, Smith said that knowing where grassroots members stand is an important part of the policy development process for her government. 

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