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Prentice: Bass-Ackwards into the 'Lake of Fire'?

12/05/2014 05:37 EST | Updated 02/04/2015 05:59 EST
Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 30: Jim Prentice, Canada's Minister of Industry, speaks during an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007. Prentice addressed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Canada-U.S. relations earlier today. (Photo by Carol T. Powers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

December 1: I wondered if Prentice was dabbling in the "Lake of Fire"?

December 3: I wondered if Prentice is a Grand Master Politician?

Today: I wonder if Prentice just stumbled bass-ackwards into the "Lake of Fire"?

Let's play THE GAME OF LIFE (Alberta LGBTQ Youth Edition) as we go through Mr. Prentice's statement pulling back Bill 10.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as you are aware I returned to the province last evening, following meeting with the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec and a meeting this morning with Governor Christie of New Jersey.

I am here this afternoon to speak to Bill 10 and to respond to your questions.

Bill 10 is intended to strike a balance on important issues involving:

- the rights of LGBQT youth

- the rights of parents to be involved in the education of their children

- the autonomy of school boards

- the constitutional rights of separate school boards

None of this is easy. Rights are difficult and the conflict between competing rights is difficult for all of us. The debate surrounding Bill 10 proves this.

Jim Prentice is telling us that he -- like any premier -- is dealt a very difficult hand when it comes to this issue. For right or for wrong, the political and legal quagmire of enshrining gay-straight alliances into law is absurdly complex.

It a mishmash of constitutional legal compromises dating back to confederation that were meant to resolve issues then that really have little bearing today. Its a hodgepodge of new scientific understanding of sexuality pitted against millennia old religious dogma. It is old, dying isolationist culture versus a new, growing pluralist culture.

Jim Prentice:

For having a tough political challenge not of your making.

MOVE BACK ONE SPACE to the "Lake of Fire".

LGBTQ Youth:

For inheriting a bunch of societal baggage that is not your fault.

MOVE BACK ONE SPACE to the "Lake of Fire".

Such debates are clearly divisive. One cannot have rights without respecting the rights of others. The rights of no citizen are absolute over the rights of another.

Moreover, conflict between religious freedoms and the rights of LGBQT students involve deeply held views of personal belief.

Rights do, however, often come into conflict with one another. Depending on where it is in its journey, a society will, through courts decisions or legislation, limit the extent of one right over another. (For example, you can't falsely yell "FIRE!" in a theatre then claim the right of "Free Speech". Even Free Speech has its limits.)

Jim Prentice:

For not clearly stating where you see each right beginning and ending.

MOVE BACK ONE SPACE to the "Lake of Fire".

LGBTQ Youth:

For being told by a government, in 2014, that you have to continue having rights withheld that you need to secure your personal wellbeing and physical safety.

MOVE BACK ONE SPACE to the "Lake of Fire".

The introduction of Bill 10 as a solution to the divisiveness created by Bill 202 has clearly not been helpful.

I accept personal responsibility for the introduction of Bill 10.

This is an uncalled for, brazen, backhanded, partisan swipe at Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman casting her as the troublemaker and the PCs as the soothing voice of calm. The opposite was true. Too much lipstick on the pig.

Laurie Blakeman pushed for gay-straight alliance legislation because LGBTQ kids were killing themselves and it wasn't even on the PC legislative radar.

Sorry, Mr. Prentice, you lose major sympathy points here for that comment.

Jim Prentice:

For putting makeup on livestock.

MOVE BACK ONE SPACE to the "Lake of Fire".

LGBTQ Youth:

This is not your fight. This is adults hurling veiled insults.

DO NOT MOVE AHEAD

Laurie Blakeman:

For political courage and overall parliamentary wiliness.

MOVE AHEAD ONE SPACE

I felt that the Bill struck an appropriate balance and that it achieved signature advances for the rights of LGBQT students.

I would point, in particular, to the fact that Bill 10 proposes to explicitly enshrine the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation in the Alberta Bill of Rights. To my knowledge no one else in Canada has done this.

The Bill also proposes to repeal Section 11.1 of the Human Rights Act which the advocates of Alberta's LGBQT community have argued is one of the most discriminatory pieces of legislation in Canada.

The Bill attempts to respect religious freedoms and also enshrines parental rights in the Alberta Bill of Rights.

No one else in Canada has done the latter.

Nobody really understood what was meant by the parental rights section or its implications but we were too busy arguing about GSAs to get to that. The rest of it, though quite good, was long overdue.

Jim Prentice:

For recognizing the need to broaden the provisions beyond just GSAs to include the Alberta Bill of Rights and for recognizing the need to clean up offensive mistakes from the past, despite saying in your leadership campaign that you wouldn't.

MOVE AHEAD ONE SPACE away from the "Lake of Fire".

LGBTQ Youth:

Prentice was right, these were "signature advances". Unfortunately for you, he really meant they would have been "signature advances", because in reality, nothing has changed.

DO NOT MOVE AHEAD

Unfortunately, Bill 10 has added to, rather than resolved these divisions.

I accept personal responsibility for this as I am the Premier.

I am most disturbed that our LGBQT youth, are caught in the middle of a divisive debate. This they didn't ask for. And most are simply young people trying to find their way in life and in the life of our Province.

Jim Prentice:

For sympathizing with the problem of LGBTQ youth (good) but not bringing any real solutions that save lives over the goal line (bad).

DO NOT MOVE AHEAD

LGBTQ Youth:

For getting the debate about GSAs on the political radar (good) but still being caught in a fight that is far more divisive and unproductive between the adults (bad) than it is among your peers.

DO NOT MOVE AHEAD

As Premier, I am Premier for all Albertans which means representing and protecting our religious minorities, and our all of children, including those who are LGBQT.

At present, there is clearly no consensus in Alberta on either the constitutionality or indeed the wisdom of the provincial government mandating Gay Straight Alliances in schools.

Jim Prentice:

For equivocating on protecting LGBTQ children from religious minorities.

MOVE BACK ONE SPACE to the "Lake of Fire".

LGBTQ Youth:

For being told by a government, in 2014, that you have to wait until there is a "clear consensus" from Albertans while your personal safety needs are balanced with rights of religious minorities.

MOVE BACK TEN SPACES to the "Lake of Fire".

The issue was polarizing to begin with and has become even more so over the past several days.

So where to from here?

Both I and my caucus have heard, loudly and clearly, that Albertans wish there to be further consultation on the substance of Bill 10.

Jim Prentice:

For taking years and years of consultations regarding the new Education Act, missing this big issue altogether, and then trying push through Bill 10 with no consultations.

MOVE BACK ONE SPACE to the "Lake of Fire".

LGBTQ Youth:

For having to endure more waiting when society is clearly moving in your direction and when voters have clearly indicated in Alberta that they support you.

MOVE BACK ONE SPACE to the "Lake of Fire".

Bill 10 clearly does not make Gay Straight Alliances mandatory.

The Bill creates a legislated framework within which students who wish to create Gay Straight Alliances can take such a request forward to the school authority elected to make such decisions.

In my view, the school boards who are elected to administer schools have the legal responsibility to do so and that includes the obligation to respect the Charter rights of their student bodies.

Jim Prentice:

For saying absolutely the right thing then switching from DRIVE to NEUTRAL.

MOVE BACK ONE SPACE to the "Lake of Fire".

LGBTQ Youth:

For at least having the genuine, personal sympathy of the premier.

MOVE AHEAD ONE SPACE away from the "Lake of Fire".

There have been few voices supportive of this approach and many opposed. More importantly, many Albertans have expressed the view that this should not be done with haste.

Accordingly, I have met with my caucus, have heard their concerns and have instructed the Government House Leader to place the third reading of Bill 10 on hold, pending further consultation with Albertans.

Jim Prentice:

For pursuing consultations rather than abandoning the issue altogether (good) but not signalling the urgency of the situation (bad).

DO NOT MOVE AHEAD



LGBTQ Youth:

For having to wait an indefinite period of time.

MOVE BACK ONE SPACE to the "Lake of Fire".

I would thank the members of my caucus who have advocated for the balance that Bill 10 attempts to strike. I want, in particular to acknowledge the leadership, hard work and personal courage of Sandra Jansen who has been responsible for the carriage of Bill 10 in the Legislative Assembly.

I don't intend to be specific today on immediate next steps. Given the emotion on all sides of this discussion, I think that everyone will benefit from a pause. Thank you."

(Sandra Jansen was exceptional.)

Jim Prentice:

For not recognizing that not "everyone benefits from the pause". LGBTQ kids will die. Intolerance will flourish. Schools will be less safe than they need to be for all kids.

STEP INTO THE "Lake of Fire".

LGBTQ Youth:

For being, in reality, no further ahead.

STEP INTO THE "Lake of Fire".

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

#KillBill10