Victory for children and parents: Alberta repeals Bill 24
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca), which represented parents and schools in their successful challenge to Alberta’s Bill 24.
In 2017, Alberta’s NDP government passed a law requiring teachers and principals to keep secrets from parents about their children—children as young as five.
A new report by the Fraser Institute shows that any province can force other provinces and the federal government to renegotiate the constitution.
In what will be a welcome report to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, the Fraser Institute made a particular note of equalization payments—finding that the payment system could be restructured.
Speaking to the Fraser Institute, Professor Rainer Knopff stated, “If Alberta charts the correct course, it can bring otherwise reluctant governments to the table to discuss fiscal federalism.”
Equalization has long been a point of contention between Western Canada and Ottawa—so much so, that Premier Kenney is considering a provincial referendum on the subject of removing equalization payments from the constitution. If Kenney is successful, the referendum may trigger the “duty to negotiate” is there is also an element of succession.
Last year, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, Yves-Francois Blanchet, suggested that Quebec had disproportionally sent money to Quebec to pay for pipelines. In reality, Alberta got the short end of the stick, despite unemployment skyrocketing and industry leaving.
Alberta has long been fueling Canada’s gas pumps nationwide, but since world oil collapsed in 2014, thousands of displaced energy jobs migrated south of the border.
According to a new interview with Calgary-based Osprey Informatics COO Paul Ritchie, moving jobs to Houston was a move that the lone star state has welcomed him with open arms.
The company opened its Houston-based office in January and is budgeted to do a sizable 10 percent of its business out of the states in 2020. That 10 percent, though, is expected to bring in 70 percent of the company’s business, and Canada only 30 percent.
Ritchie told Global News that the move was a no brainer.
“I wouldn’t have left Canada without the opportunity that sits in front of us right now.”
“Canadian companies are so well respected that it’s not even a blip in the road when you’re dealing with somebody. It’s like, ‘Oh, you’re a Canadian company—it’s going to be good, and you’re going to be nice to me.’”
Ritchie says it’s not just individuals who’ve made the moves—companies, large and small, have flocked to states with more welcoming attitudes towards oil work.
“We all know the big names that have left. There are hundreds of smaller companies that are very significant employers here in Calgary that, 50, 60, 70 percent of their revenues are coming out of the United States and they had no choice.”
“This isn’t something that they wanted to do, but if the business is in the U.S. you are going to go where that business is.”
Oil analysts say Ritchie’s case is far from unusual. Tim Pickering with Auspice Capital Advisors Ltd. said there’s definitely an energy exodus happening.
“It’s just a lot easier in Texas in a lot of ways,” Pickering said. “There’s no real edge to being in Alberta and that’s painful to say.”
Ritchie went on to say that the move was a welcomed change in his life, and that he was excited to move to a city like Houston, which reminded him a lot of the city Calgary used to be 15 years ago.
“Houston has a Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Consulate is there, they have three trade commissioners there. They are very active in pushing Canadian companies to the U.S. market.”
Scholz said conversations are happening all over the province in businesses, wondering if it’s worth it to keep their head offices in Alberta.
Starting on March 1, Alberta is planning to drop coverage for those benefiting from the Alberta Seniors Benefit Drug Program.
CBC has reported that the change was made public in the 2019 Albertan budget as well as by letters recently mailed by the government.
The letter says, “To ensure the government can continue to provide this program to our province’s seniors and to keep Alberta’s health system sustainable, the government is changing the eligibility criteria for the program.”
According Health Minister Tyler Shandro’s spokesperson, Steve Buick, the seniors program is the largest drug program in Alberta. The program costs approximately $600 million annually.
“The Seniors [Benefit] Drug Program is for seniors—not for non-seniors. No other province covers non-seniors through a seniors’ drug program,” wrote Buick.
Buick says that dropping the coverage of dependents who are under the age of 65 is estimated to save Alberta about $36.5 million annually.
He noted that the number of Albertans currently using the program as dependants is about 46,000.
Heather Waldie is among the Albertans who will no longer receive coverage starting in march.
Waldie is an Edmonton resident and has Stage 4 breast cancer. Her cancer treatment requires costly drugs that the government has covered until now but that coverage will end in March.
“My coverage is ending because I’m 63. I’m under 65. My husband is over 65, but with the new eligibility criteria I am no longer eligible for drug coverage,” Waldie told CBC. “My future is very uncertain because I have ongoing treatment. So it’s a stressor.”
Waldie showed up to an NDP news conference to share her objections towards the program which she described as “absolute hogwash.”
“This affects 46,000 Albertans who have contributed to life in Alberta, who want to contribute as they live their lives. Billions of dollars have been given away in tax cuts to corporations,” she said.
“I think this is completely affordable by this government, but they are choosing to cut valuable programs that preserve the health and well-being of Albertans who have built this province. I think it’s outrageous.”
Waldie planned her retirement from a career in teaching with the benefit program in mind.
She said, “Seniors are part of a family household, and codependents, so it’s a family budget. You hurt one member of a family unit, you’re hurting everybody in that family unit.”
The option that the government has suggested is applying for non-group Blue Cross coverage for Albertans losing their benefits.
Counselling your child against serious health risks of changing gender not 'family violence': BC court ruling
Lawyer John Carpay is President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca), which intervened in the BC Court of Appeal in the case of AB v. CD.
In the case of AB v. CD, the BC Court of Appeal has allowed a 15-year-old female-born minor to continue receiving puberty blockers and testosterone, which will likely lead to the irreversible destruction of the minor’s sexual function and fertility.
The Court has deemed AB to be sufficiently mature to consent to the risks of taking testosterone, about which the BC Children’s Hospital has warned: heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, decreased good cholesterol (HDL), increased bad cholesterol (LDL), emotional change (anger and irritability), and vaginal abrasions and tears.
The Hospital warns that the body sometimes converts testosterone to estrogen, which may increase the risks of ovarian, breast, cervical and uterine cancer. The Hospital states that the long-term effects of testosterone and puberty blockers on younger adolescents are unknown, and that the safety of testosterone is not fully understood. Girls who take puberty blockers and testosterone will develop into adults who may look and sound like men, but lack male genitalia. Even after gender re-assignment surgery, as adults they will not be able to father children. Nor will they likely be able to get pregnant and bear children, with natural female sexual maturity having been prevented. CD, who is the father of AB, is devastated.
Neither the lower courts nor the Court of Appeal have grappled with the compelling evidence showing that gender identity confusion usually goes away by itself. The vast majority of boys and girls revert to identifying with their natal sex by the time they are 18, if they are allowed to go through puberty naturally and receive appropriate encouragement and support to embrace biological reality. With psychological counseling instead of hormones and drugs, the success rate ranges from 70 percent to 90 percent, depending on which of the many studies that one relies on. This has been demonstrated by Dr. Kenneth Zucker and Dr. Susan Bradley, who ran the Child Youth and Family Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) in Toronto from 1981 to 2015, successfully treating hundreds of children struggling with gender dysphoria.
The courts have also failed to take heed of a 2011 Swedish study of 324 sex-reassigned persons (191 male-to-females, 133 female-to-males), which shows that the long-term outcome of such treatments resulted in life-long psychological trauma and increased chance of suicide. Even in a progressive and socially liberal country, the suicide rate in these patients was 19 times higher than the general population, as these individuals passed through a post-treatment period of relative happiness but then began to experience significant morbidity and regret. Across the world, a growing number of transgender adults are warning that gender re-assignment surgery has brought them inexorable misery.
Without delving into these concerns, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that deference must be given to healthcare professionals, whose decisions made under the BC Infants Act about whether minors are able to consent to particular treatments, and whether those treatments are in their best interests, are only reviewable by the courts in very limited ways. Yet many of these health practitioners are on an affirmation-only bandwagon, or are afraid to speak out against it. This ensures that many young teens are moved along a path toward transition as soon as they step into a “gender identity clinic.” Parents with serious concerns about social contagion, or other mental health concerns prompting their child’s sudden desire to transition, will find little comfort in this ruling. Hopefully a future case will put evidence of these concerns before the courts.
The small silver lining on this very dark cloud has come by way of this Court now modifying the lower court rulings that drastically restricted CD’s parental rights and his freedom of expression.
Justice Gregory Bowden of the BC Supreme Court issued an Order that CD could not attempt to persuade his female-born child to pursue any treatment other than puberty blockers and testosterone. Justice Bowden further ordered CD not to address his child by the child’s birth name, or to refer to his female-born child as “she” or “her” in any conversation with anyone. Justice Bowden went on to declare that violating these draconian measures would constitute “family violence” under BC’s Family Law Act.
The BC Court of Appeal overturned this order in part, ruling that “there was insufficient evidence in the unique circumstances here to ground a finding of family violence—that is, emotional or psychological abuse—as defined in the Family Law Act.” The Appeal Court added that Justice Bowden “raising the issue of family violence in the context of this case caused the parties to become increasingly polarized in their positions, thus exacerbating the conflict and raising the stakes in the litigation. We see none of this to be in AB’s best interests.”
The father is now once again entitled to communicate his views about the risks and dangers of AB’s current treatment to AB. The Appeal Court noted that AB is a mature minor with capacity to make medical treatment decisions, and this capacity “includes the ability to listen to opposing views.” AB’s capacity to consent does not remove all parental involvement from medical decisions: “Parents can be involved in the process of explanation, instruction and advice leading to the obtaining of the informed consent of the child. They should be involved as part of that process wherever possible.”
Regarding CD’s freedom of expression, the Appeal Court noted that “the values underlying the right to freedom of expression include finding the truth through the open exchange of ideas, which extends to protecting minority beliefs that the majority regard as wrong or false.” However, the Court also ruled that the father’s right to express his opinion publicly and to share AB’s private information to third parties “may properly be subject to constraints aimed at preventing harm to AB. The Court will not restrict “CD’s right to express his opinion in his private communications with family, close friends and close advisors, provided none of these individuals is part of or connected with the media or any public forum, and provided CD obtain assurances from those with whom he shares information or views that they will not share that information with others.”
While AB continues to receive testosterone injections, this Appeal Court ruling at least shows greater respect for freedom of expression and for parental rights than did the lower courts. But it’s a small victory in the overall context of this sad case.