Yesterday, over two thousand Albertans gathered at the steps of the Legislature to say to the Minister of Education and to his government that Bill 2 – the proposed Education Act – must be changed.
The focal point of the peaceful rally was the last six words of Section 16 of Bill 2 - "and the Alberta Human Rights Act" – which need to be removed in order to protect the rights and freedoms of all parents, all home educators, and indeed all Albertans.
Two weeks ago, on Friday, March 2, 2012, the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) sent notice to its members that it would be holding a rally at the Legislature to express concerns about Bill 2: The Education Act. The rally would take place a mere three days later, and at that March 5th rally, over 500 home educators from across the province gathered to voice concerns and ask for changes.
The Minister of Education subsequently added an amendment to the Preamble mentioning parental rights, but as the Preamble to any act has little force in law, that amendment was virtually meaningless.
So, on Thursday, March 15, 2012, AHEA - in conjunction with the Home School Legal Defence Association (HSLDA) and Citizens for Diversity in Education (CDE) – decided to hold a second rally at the Legislature on Monday, March 19th.
A mere four days later, 2,152 Albertans (confirmed by crowd counters) from all walks of life, from every age group, representing every educational option in Alberta, gathered at the steps of the Legislature to protest those six words in Section 16 of Bill 2: "...and the Alberta Human Rights Act."
CBC and CTV described it as the largest rally at those steps in many years. One attendee described it as the largest rally at those steps in Alberta's history.
The message of speakers at the rally: the Alberta Human Rights Act has no place in the schools and homes of Albertans and therefore has no place in the Education Act, Bill 2. This was the repeated message of HSLDA President Paul Faris who also pointed out the legal concerns with Bill 2.
CDE representative Stuart Wachowisz stated: "Section 16 places the determination of acceptability of all content, teaching resources and by extension, verbal instruction, under the Alberta Human Rights Act. Thus, subsequent to the passing of Bill 2, interpretation and enforcement will no longer fall under the purview of the Minister and his Department, or even
under the authority of the elected legislature, but rather into the hands of the non-elected Alberta Human Rights Commission and Tribunal. "
"The disregarding of parental rights as paramount in the education of children clearly is the intention of Section 16. This will significantly compromise the ability of parents to pass on to their children cultural and/or faith based values."
A coalition of many organizations have signed their names to a CDE letter stating their concern with section 16 of Bill 2. The Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association (ACSTA) also submitted a letter to the Provincial government and they are asking their members to voice concerns regarding Bill 2.
AHEA and HSLDA thank all those who attended yesterday's rally – and all those who couldn't attend but who have been praying and calling and emailing the Premier, the Minister of Education, and their MLAs – for making the rally a success. The voices of home educators and parents were heard loud and clear: change Bill 2!
But, although the Minister came to our rally, it would appear he has still not changed his mind on the inclusion of the six words. So AHEA and HSLDA are asking their members to continue to make their concerns known to the Alberta government:
1 – Pray!
First, last and always. Pray for parents and pray for our leaders that they may show courage in respecting and protecting parental rights and human rights (and remove reference to the Alberta Human Rights Act from Section 16 of Bill 2).
2 – Call and email!
Persistently, patiently, respectfully, and charitably keep calling and emailing our Premier, our Minister of Education, and your MLA.
Here’s how: If long distance, call 310-0000 and then enter the area code and number you wish.
For Education Minister Thomas Lucaszuk - phone- 780-427-5010 – or email:
Please also call and email your MLA. Thank you!
3 – Take courage!
Even if Bill 2 passes without further amendment (which may happen very soon), we should take heart in what we have accomplished:
- we have taken the public conversation from the government’s agenda and made it every parent’s and every Albertan’s agenda;
- we have awoken some sleeping giants – individuals and groups - who now realize that their human rights are threatened;
- and we have made it clear that parents and home educators are determined and untiring and very involved in doing what is right.
There is a provincial election coming soon. While AHEA and HSLDA won’t tell you how to vote in that election, we would ask that you carefully consider who to vote for. If
your elected representative - or a candidate for that position – won’t stand up for parental freedoms and your human rights, that why would you vote for them?
Thank you all who attended the rally! Thank you to all who prayed for the success of the rally! Thank you for all your continuing efforts!
For more information, background, and history of this issue:
Text of Section 16 of Bill 2:
Diversity and respect -
16 All courses or programs of study offered and instructional materials used in a
school must reflect the diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta,
promote understanding and respect for others and honour and respect the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Human Rights Act.