By Jonathon Van Maren
From the moment they took office, the NDP have sustained a nonstop war on Alberta’s education system, utilizing a two-pronged approach: Transform the curriculum in public schools and attack the religious schools. I suspect that the NDP is fully aware of the fact that they were elected due to a blip in Alberta’s political history—a right wing so divided that it allowed a hardcore left-wing party to sneak up the middle and gain power, as well as a shot at transforming the province. And as all good lefties know, if you want to transform a province, you change the educational system and let the schools do the work for you. That way, even if you only get four years in office, you’ve set the stage for long-term change.
The NDP has been working hard at this. They’ve changed the social studies curriculum beyond recognition. Premier Rachel Notley tipped her hand when she was spotted reading a socialist fairytale called Mouseland to elementary school children. And the NDP government has informed religious schools that they are no longer permitted to maintain their unique religious identity. Columnist Licia Corbella recently penned a disgusted column in the Calgary Herald titled “NDP’s attack on religious schools violates the Charter.” Here it is in full—it is worth reading:
Truth. It’s a word that Alberta Education says isn’t diverse enough and could lead to a school being shut down by the province. This is not a joke.
Alberta’s NDP government is making the threat to private religious schools in Alberta for including statements of faith in their anti-bullying policies.
Curtis Clark, Alberta’s deputy minister of education, is threatening schools with defunding and the removal of a school’s accreditation if they do not strip various faith statements from their “Safe and Caring” school policies, including:
“The unchangeable and infallible truth of the Word of God . . .” allegedly violates the School Act requirement that “diversity” must be respected. In the document sent to schools, the word truth is highlighted in yellow by the government, in a colour-coded document now nicknamed the “rainbow reprimand.”
Everything highlighted in yellow contains “language which suggests alternative viewpoints are not equally legitimate, which is disrespectful of diversity,” states the NDP government.
In other words, schools must teach only relativism, no absolutes are allowed, otherwise those schools will not find favour with Eggen and his comrades in the NDP.
How about this statement from the religious school: “We believe men and women were created in the image of God, after His likeness, and therefore have transcendent, intrinsic worth.”
Apparently, that statement is considered “unwelcoming, uncaring and/or disrespectful” by the Alberta government and is highlighted in orange.
In Rachel Notley’s Alberta, Truth has become a four-letter word.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms says it is aware of about 30 schools that received correspondence from Alberta Education last month stating that failure to remove the content, such as the examples above, from a school’s “Safe and Caring” policies “may result in funding implications . . . and the suspension or cancellation of accreditation.”
All schools in Alberta were required to submit their policies about their “safe and caring policy” to Alberta Education Minister David Eggen by March 2016. It wasn’t until September that some schools finally received a response from the Alberta government.
“In the name of ‘diversity,’ David Eggen is attacking the constitutional right to have thoughts, opinions and beliefs different than his own,” said lawyer and Justice Centre president John Carpay.
It’s ironic, to be sure.
“This is a naked and aggressive attack against the charter rights and freedoms of every citizen, and designed to intimidate schools, which are now asserting their charter rights in court,” said Carpay, who is representing parents and dozens of schools in a constitutional challenge to Bill 24’s secrecy provisions, which require withholding information from parents about their own children as young as five years old.
Bill 24, in short, makes it illegal for teachers to tell parents that their child has joined a peer-to-peer Gay Straight Alliance group (GSA) regardless of their age or particular concerns that might arise owing to mental-health challenges of a given child.
Donna Trimble, the executive director of the group Parents for Choice in Education, with a membership of 11,000 parents, says this is such a distinct infringement on parental choice in education that all members — whether they belong to a faith group or not — are alarmed.
“This is a no-win situation for these schools,” said Trimble, whose organization is not faith based, but choice based.
“These schools have two choices. One is they strip their schools of any faith-based perspectives in their safe and caring policies in order to satisfy the government’s demands, and then they are giving up the very foundation and reason for their existence, or, two, they are shut down for their refusal to do so,” she added.
“We feel that under the guise of safe and caring and anti-bullying and diversity, Alberta Education is crushing the freedoms of conscience, belief, speech and association of their citizens. It’s completely unacceptable, and if we allow this to happen, it won’t matter where you send your children if they’ve all been transformed into one-size fits-all institutions.”
Perhaps that’s the NDP’s ultimate goal? No choice, no diversity. Just NDP beliefs taught in Alberta.
“How can the word truth be highlighted as an unacceptable word in a safe and caring policy?” asked Trimble of the government document.
Eggen would not agree to an interview but did provide a written statement to Postmedia.
“I have been perfectly clear that all school boards that receive public funding will follow the law,” he said in the statement.
“Some of the language in current policies that are non-compliant wouldn’t make LGBTQ youth and their allies feel safe,” said Eggen.
“We have come a long way in just a few years to ensure all students feel safe at school despite Jason Kenney’s UCP attempting to undermine the good work that our schools are taking part in. We won’t allow them to take us backwards by allowing students to be outed,” said Eggen.
Every Albertan who cares about freedom should be deeply concerned about this, whether they have a faith-based perspective or not.
Ultimately, all of our charter freedoms are meaningless if a government that is hostile to one’s beliefs can come in and hijack your church, charity or school.
That’s the truth, whether the government likes it or not.
Corbella is bang-on—this is an attack by the Albertan government on religious Albertans for disagreeing with the NDP’s radical post-modern ideology. You’ll notice, too, that David Eggen constantly thunders sanctimoniously about religious schools “obeying the law,” while neglecting to mention that these schools had been obeying the law—until the NDP drafted new laws designed specifically to attack them, and then promptly targeted those who refused to fall in line and conform their education institutions to NDP values. Eggen won’t even talk to newspapers that might disagree with him, because he cannot stand anyone who disagrees with them (he’s even blocked me on Twitter since I began writing about him.) It is utterly disgraceful, and I’m only glad that the naked aggression of the NDP towards religious Albertans is now so obvious that even mainstream newspapers are running condemnations of this totalitarian behavior.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.