Conscience Rights for Health Practioners and Marriage Commissioners?
There is a very current war-of-words going on in Alberta right now. I thought perhaps some RP supporters could help me out. My province is in the midst of a big election because the Progressive-Conservative party has been at the helm continuously since 1971. The PCs are the Canadian version of probably, maybe, very close-to-center Democrats? But they are considered 'right wing' up here lol. Short back story, our current Federal Conservative govt came about from a mash-up of the PCs and a 'further right' party called Reform. That's where our PM Stephen Harper and most of his people came from (in fact, the majority of his major cabinet members are fellow Albertans, as is Harper - a Calgarian).
Anyway now we have a new party rearing it's head - the Wildrose Alliance. The leader inadvertently got some free campaign advertising in the form of a rather badly placed photo of herself on a campaign bus, that was shown on Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, etc a couple weeks ago lol. Anyway the Wildrose party is 'further right' yet again (but up here in Canada, they are considered extreme right wing, which is fricken hysterical because they aren't - they are just further to the right than all of the more-left parties we have in the country lol).
Anyway the new issue is that Wildrose does not want to force people like Marriage Commissioners, Doctors, etc to perform duties that are against their conscience. The PC Leader is having a hey-day with this, claiming that will allow commissioners to deny performing Same-Sex marriages if they don't like it (it's legal across Canada btw), and that Catholic doctors could deny prescribing contraception, etc. Wildrose does not say anything about that, they said that they are trying to uphold the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (our version of the Constitution) in which it says
""2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;""
""Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.""
Wildrose goes on to say that the current way the Alberta Human Rights Commission is run is out of touch and out of control, and that if people wish to bring something to the court, the party wants to change it to a Human Rights Division within Provincial Law, rather than the current system of it being all by itself and seeming to do whatever it likes willy-nilly. That's all the policy says and I have been reading for two hours to try to find what all the hub-bub is about. I thought I would ask the RPF goers if it sounds like the reigning party is grasping at straws, or if the Wildrose is going to allow people to be discriminated against.
My other problem is where the PC party and many citizens consider doctors as Public Servants. They are pretty much forced to be, if they wish to follow that career path, because of the medical system our govt created, which allows for very few private practitioners. I found an article from the Financial Post when I was looking up 'doctors are public servants' that talks about how I feel about the issue http://www.financialpost.com/scripts...c3b584&k=28370 . Even more confusing - when I look up public servants in Canada, I get a list on the govt website that only includes people attached to governing organizations - not doctors, teachers, nurses, etc. So are doctors 'public servants' here or not? Yes they serve 'the public', but are they 'public servants'? It's a bit muddy up here.
At any rate, do you think that it is reasonable for the new party leader, should she become Premier after our April 23rd vote, to preserve the freedom of conscience in such a way that her detractors suggest could open the lines for doctors, marriage commissioners, etc to deny performing duties to certain members of the public? In case it's different in the US, a marriage commissioner in Alberta is someone that is appointed and can serve no longer than 5 years, based on what I just read on the alberta govt website. It's not exactly a career choice and most often, they hold other jobs and just do marriages as they are asked. The man who performed my marriage in 1992 was a retired lawyer.
Also here are some links to recent news stories up here about this issue:
calgaryherald.com/life/Conscience+rights+discussion+puts+Wildrose+Smith+s eat+with+video/6411686/story.html (need a www. at the front)
Last edited by kezt777; 04-05-2012 at 11:46 PM.
I just found out while reading online tonight that a PC candidate introduced a bill back in 2006 that says the same things the current PC leader is admonishing the Wild Rose leader for saying. I laughed at that because he is still one of her party members and is seeking re-election. The leader is on the news all the time talking about how 'scary' it is for Smith to suggest this conscience of thought idea, when one of her own members did the same thing not long back. Wow. What a surprise that was to find.