Kenney does 'not believe in mandatory notification' for gay-straight alliances
Alberta’s United Conservative Party leader is standing by his decision not to enact a policy that would potentially out LGBTQ youth to their families.
“We will have to govern for all Albertans, not just Conservative Party members,” UCP Leader Jason Kenney told CTV Power Play on Monday. “We take general direction from the membership, but ultimately I’ll be holding the pen on our platform.”
Despite pleas from senior caucus members, during the UCP’s founding policy conference on Sunday, 57 per cent of delegates voted in favour of a motion stating that parents in Alberta should be notified when their children are involved in subjects of a religious or sexual nature, including extracurricular clubs like gay-straight alliances.
Such clubs, advocates say, provide LGBTQ students with a safe space and a refuge from bullying. Notifying parents of a student’s involvement in gay-straight alliances, they add, could potentially out them to their families against their will.
Speaking on Power Play, Kenney said Sunday’s “very badly worded” motion has created “a lot of confusion” and “unnecessary anxiety.”
“We’re a big-tent coalition and we have people with different views on different questions,” Kenney added. “On questions like this, what our members are trying to tell us is the importance of parental authority and responsibility… At the same time, I’ve said if kids joined a peer group like a gay-straight alliance just to get emotional or other support, there’s no need for mandatory notification any more than joining the chess club. So, we’re not going to put mandatory notification in our platform or our government policy.”
Kenney also tried to downplay the suggestion that he ought to be beholden to the UCP grassroots.
“I’m the leader and I’m in charge,” he said. “It was never the idea that we would just cut and paste resolutions into a platform.”
Kenney, however, has previously made comments in which he expressed support for such notifications, unless doing so would put a child in danger. On Monday, he appeared to distance himself from that stance.
“Bottom line is, we do not believe in mandatory notification of parents for extracurricular activities in peer groups,” he said.
With files from The Canadian Press