Things That Strongly Discourage Me About The Wildrose Party

Right now, there are three things that truly concern me about the party that looks like the most likely to wind up running this province after April 23rd. I fear that people are either not aware of what a Wildrose government would really stand for, or they don’t understand the repercussions of these three issues, so I thought I would put forward my thoughts on these topics here and hopefully open some eyes, or at least engage in some conversation about what I consider to be three very real problems with the Wildrose.

Conscience Rights
I’m going to start with Conscience Rights, because I view them as the Wildrose’s most ugly policy-that’s-not-a-policy. If you search the Wildrose web site for the word “conscience”, you get two links. The first is to a speech made by Danielle Smith presented last October at the Calgary Leader’s Dinner Speech entitled It’s Time for Alberta to Lead Again, and a press release entitled Wildrose demands government respect democracy on caucus funding. The latter only uses the word conscience when asking MLAs to vote based on theirs on this particular issue. The former uses it in reference to section two of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Finding references on their web site has proven difficult, and yet searching google for Wildrose conscience rights brings up all kinds of information. This article from the Edmonton Journal in particular drew my attention, citing comments by Danielle Smith, the party leader, as well as their own policies. Conscience rights should be granted, according to Smith, to health care workers and marriage commissioners.

Now, one might wonder what issues of conscience might impact health care workers or marriage commissioners where their conscience would preclude their duty as public servants. The only answer I can come up with is granting public servants the ability to not do their jobs based on their personal opinions. That doesn’t sit well with me. It smacks of allowing religion and opinion to enter into the public space. Many believe, for example, that a marriage commissioner should have the legal right to say, “I am sorry, but I won’t perform gay marriages,” but that is a public servant discriminating against someone on the basis of their sexuality.

It is interesting that it they talk of limiting this right to these two particular fields. To allow teachers, for example, the right to do the same would mean allowing a teacher who does not want to teach the facts of evolution to do so, but it would also mean that a teacher who believes that the Holocaust was a myth would not be required to teach a historically accurate viewpoint of World War 2.

These are back door policies to ensure that right wing Christians never have to do what they don’t want to do. You’re a Pro-Life doctor and don’t want to give an abortion? Well, forget the rights of your patient, your world view is more important. The trouble is, you have a job to do. Your job is not to inflict your personal faith and ideologies on the masses, but this “conscience rights” crap would allow you to do just that.

Human Rights
I’m not sure I entirely understand why the Wildrose want to scrap the Human Rights Commission. I’ve never heard complaints about the HRC that I felt to be valid, though I’m by no means in the know on a lot of what goes on there, and it’s entirely possible that I am not aware of the reality of the HRC. However, in the policy statement by the Wildrose about this topic, they specifically identify religious and right wing social commentators. I find it difficult, as such, to see this as anything less than a group of right wing religious politicians doing what they can to protect their right wing religious friends, the people who sing their praises loudest.

Replacing the HRC with a Human Rights Division of the Provincial Court of Alberta? Well, my immediate thought is that the court system is already frustrating, adding to their load doesn’t seem to be a good plan. The courts are already bogged down with cases, both legitimate and otherwise, and increasing their scope doesn’t seem to be a good way to see results.

As well, we’re back to the issue of income disparity. The claim, of course, is that financial aid would be set up to help low earning Albertans to ensure that they are able to engage in valid human rights claims. Well, that’s all well and good for the bottom and the top, but what about the middle? How much financial aid would your typical poor-but-not-broke family like mine get when it came time to argue for their human rights? Because of my income (which, in this case, does not take into account the gigantic amount of money I spend on child and spousal support), I do not presently qualify for legal aid. If I were to be involved in a law suit, it would probably bankrupt me. Let’s pretend that someone did something to attack my human rights, would I be quick to fight for my rights?

No. I’d suck it up and I’d deal with it. And I think most people in my situation would do the same. Is that really the kind of policy we want to see?

If there are legitimate problems with the HRC, then those should clearly be addressed. But throwing out the baby with the bathwater is always a mistake. If there is a real problem with frivolous complaints to the HRC, then perhaps the appropriate thing to do would be to grant the commission the ability to levy fines at their discretion? I would want to see how many of those complaints were found to be frivolous, and how many were legitimate decisions awarded in favor of the defendant?

Abortions
One of the things I like about provincial politics is that, at least here in Canada, we consider abortion to be a federal issue. That means it’s not on the table. Abortion is an exceptionally effective example of the politics of distraction, getting people riled up about an issue that has no real bearing on anything. Oh, I get that the Anti-Choice people think that this is the single most important issue in the history of ever, but they’re wrong. A provincial election should be about the how of running a province. Abortion, now that it has been determined that the aforementioned section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is intended to protect the choice of women, is not an issue. It’s legal, so get over it.

There is an Anti-Choice group that was harassing all of the candidates in this election, insisting that they fill out a survey on the topic. Wildrose chose to post their response online, which has since been replaced with this statement by Smith insisting that they will not be delisting it. The original response was not really one way or t’other on the topic, but implied that the Wildrose would want to put these issues to a citizen-initiated referendum.

If I’m not mistaken, this is legitimate. From what I’ve heard and seen, the Wildrose had no intention of announcing themselves as the Anti-Choice candidate. The sneak within me may conjecture that they did this to garner appeal from the religious right, but the reality is that I think the damage done by having to pull back from that statement in the eyes of the religious right probably makes this a legitimate mistake.

Still, the buzz is out there. Out door knocking with the candidate I support in the upcoming election (Kevin Woron from Calgary-Hawkwood for the Alberta Party), we were greeted by a voter the other night. He was clearly Conservative, and I think that he was intrigued by the Alberta Party’s fiscally Conservative message. But something troubled him. He fudged around a little bit before finally saying it, but he then asked outright what Kevin would do about delisting abortions.

Kevin responded by saying that it was not an issue. Abortions are a federal matter, and that the Alberta Party had no official position on the matter. The guy wouldn’t let up, so Kevin explained that the Alberta Party requirement for any issue that was new business would be that he hold town halls with his constituents to determine what they wanted him to say. Whether it matched his opinion or not, he would be obliged to vote with his riding’s consensus.

Naturally, this didn’t mean a thing to the guy. What he really wanted was to say, “So, are you Pro-Life or a violent, bloodthirsty atheist who drinks the blood of aborted fetuses in secret black masses to Satan?” It didn’t matter to this schmuck that Kevin had outright said his personal beliefs didn’t matter, the guy absolutely wanted to hear whether or not Kevin would let poor little fetusbabies be killed. This became the lynch pin for whom he would support.

And the topic isn’t even a provincial one.

Now, allow me to remind you for the record that I am not saying that the official policy of the Wildrose is to remove public financial support for non-emergency abortions. They have no official policy on this matter. The only match when one searches for abortion on their web site is Smith’s response that they have no policy on the topic. But I also think it’s fair to say that if they did have a policy, that would be it. I believe they would strongly encourage those concerned right wing Christian citizens to create those citizen initiatives, especially if they held a majority government. But this is my opinion.

I’m against this. A woman’s body is her own. I’ve commented on that here at length in the past, and right this minute I don’t feel like continuing on the topic. Delisting the service from coverage by our public health insurance would not make it illegal to have an abortion, just financially impossible for poor people. The word “non-emergency” in this context has always bothered me. Yes, there is a difference between a situation where a life is at stake and a situation where a life is unwanted, and that’s an important decision. But an unwanted pregnancy is still extremely time-sensitive. Abortions are not like trips to Disneyland, you can’t just save up the money over a year or two. You have a window of a handful of weeks to make the decision, pay for it, and get it done. We accept, as a society, that an abortion is a woman’s choice. Pricing that choice out of the ballpark is a disgusting attempt to backdoor the practice.

So this may not be policy, but I dare say it’s what they would like to see happen.

(My) Conclusion
The Wildrose has done a fantastic job of slinging mud and getting attention, largely thanks to a media who has strongly supported them. Their campaign has been a mixture of interesting politics (some of which I agree with, some I don’t) and information management. I believe that all three of these issues to one degree or another are bad for Alberta, and the Wildrose supports them to one degree or another. And that concerns me greatly.

Jim

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About biguglyjim

Like a caterpillar that spins a coccoon and emerges as a walrus with a mohawk, Big Ugly Jim has become something unexpected. Raised a fine young Christian boy in the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Jim began to question his teachings, first evaluating the wisdom of other religions and eventually realizing that none of them seemed any more accurate than any other, and not a one of them made a lick of sense. Today, Big Ugly Jim is a musician, a Business Analyst with Large Oil Company Whose Name Is Not Important, a music promoter with the Calgary Beer Core, a writer of fiction and non-fiction, a prick, an atheist, a father, an ex-husband, a role model, a horrifying vision in a red speedo (or at least he would be, if ever that happened which IT WOULD NOT), an announcer, and soon to be an officiator of weddings. Also, he's nice and does dishes. Jim continues to live in Calgary, spreading his filthy doctrine of free, critical thinking and appreciation for music.

6 thoughts on “Things That Strongly Discourage Me About The Wildrose Party

  1. Hi Jim, this is an interesting post.  I have to admit I’m not familiar with many of the parties in Alberta anymore, having lived in England so long, but was hoping you could possibly help me with a query as I plan to return in a few years to work in Alberta once I’ve qualified as a doc.  Although here in England we don’t have  ‘conscience rights’ per say, we do have rights for doctors in place when it comes to sensitive issues such as abortion.  Over here, doctors can tell a patient that they are not comfortable performing or directly enabling their abortion for personal reasons however they still maintain a duty of care to their patient to refer them professionally to someone who will fulfil their request.  They have to do this in a timely fashion, ensuring the patient’s rights are protected along with ensuring continuity of care in a safe environment and maintaining respect for the patient’s choice, regardless if it goes against the doctor’s personal beliefs. That way, both the patients rights and the rights of the doctor are both protected.  I thought that the Canada had a similar policy, is that not true?  All the best, Sam

  2. To the best of my knowledge, which isn’t much, at present it is assumed that public servants have to suck up the parts of their job that they don’t like, much like the rest of us. If, for example, I belonged to a faith that believed that Jews were the devil, I could not say to my boss, “As a matter of conscience, I cannot work with that person” because that’s dickish.

  3. The HRC’s dragging of Levant to justify his work to a bureaucrat does not demonstrate to you the problem of an HRC? It’s not “valid” enough for you?

    And you are encouraging federal over provincial power?

    Then you will never understand why big government is a problem and can be a problem.

    You’re also dumbing down conscience rights.

    You are prioritizing government delegation and enhancing the power of the state over individual liberty in situations that make you squeamish. Like an MD choosing not to prescribe birth control to someone. It’s foolish, it’s dogmatic, but it’s not yet another thing we need government to save us from.

    But you seem to have lots of faith in the government, so who am I to bother challenging you on that. Except when they do not have a formal policy. Apparently the lack of something proves the presence of the exact opposite. Infallible logic. CAPP would love to have you in their marketing department.

  4. One thing I never get tired of is snarky people. Let me first say for the record that I do not consider labf’s words to be indicative of the average Wildrose supporter, nor do I consider them indicative of the average Conservative. Labf’s words are typical of a sect of both of those, but the behavior is not unique to the right.

    I’m not familiar with how poor Ezra got maligned by the HRC. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, it means I’m not familiar with it. Generally, when Ezra Levant’s name is all over the papers, I ignore whatever it is that brought it on. I find him tedious. Does that mean I feel he should be abused by any system? Absolutely not. Ezra Levant has free speech, and I would consider any attack on that to be inappropriate and unacceptable. However, I don’t know anything about it. That was covered by the comment I made immediately after the “valid” comment:

    “I’ve never heard complaints about the HRC that I felt to be valid, though I’m by no means in the know on a lot of what goes on there, and it’s entirely possible that I am not aware of the reality of the HRC.

    That’s a typical approach by sanctimonious contrarians, to take a small part of what was said and turn it into proof of the utter stupidity of their opponent. Congratulations on a well thought out counter.

    Am I encouraging federal or provincial power? In what regard? If we’re still talking about human rights concerns, then I like my understanding of the current situation, which is that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a federal document applying to all Canadians, and that interpretation of that document falls to the provinces. At what point do I encourage either one?

    I will never understand why big government is a problem? Oh please. You’re assuming I’m a left wing radical who wants government to tell us what to put on our toast each morning. Yeah, you nailed me, bub. I prefer moderation. Government is necessary and important, but cannot be allowed to hold too much sway over the lives of the people. I don’t support big government, but I guess that’s just one of those things you trot out whenever you see someone who disagrees with you. Obviously I am in favor of big government. Obviously, because I’m a rabid Communist and enemy of freedom.

    We don’t need government to save us from things that are icky. We need employers to expect their employees to do their jobs. I would think that would be a Conservative approach to things. In the case of public health officials, marriage commissioners, and any other public servant, like it or not the government is your boss. Failure to do your job would be reason for termination in any other setting. As I said, if I refused to do some aspect of my job for religious reasons, I would expect to be terminated. So why should we make special grounds for people to refuse aspects of their jobs just because they happen to work for the government?

    I have no faith in the government. I particularly have no faith in the present government, a group who have dug deep to find every possible way to simultaneously overspend and underfund. And I have no faith in a Wildrose government. And I have no faith in a Liberal government. And I have no faith in an NDP government. What I hope happens is a minority government that requires actual dialogue, actual debate of ideas, and not just the foisting of ideology on the people. But clearly, that would imply that I’ve thought about things, which would imply I’m not nearly as stupid as you’ve attempted to describe me. So I must be lying. Another vile, lying Communist trying to ruin your beautiful Free Market by putting the Invisible Hand in big government’s trousers.

  5. I don’t agree on any of you three viewpoints. First, you argue slippery slope for conscience rights but this is the same argument many use for outlawing gay marriage that is often poo poo’d by the left as invalid but you are doing it here. Second, HRC is a bunch of lazy bureaucrats. It’s a much better idea to replace them with qualified thinkers in my opinion. Last, I think you are wrong about their abortion policy. Wildrose is unapologetically libertarian so by definition they would not support government interference in personal choice. Also hence, back to the first point.

  6. 1. How is “do your job, public servant” the same as “don’t marry gay people”?

    2. Replacing a system is generally much more expensive and problematic than fixing a system. Why can’t we bring qualified thinkers into the HRC, as well as processes to vet complaints and more tight controls on nuisance complaints?

    3. So I made up the reaction of Wildrose to the abortion survey?

    You’re absolutely allowed to disagree with me on those (and any) points, I encourage conversation. If I am wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it. Please, discuss this rebuttal.

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