There is a misconception by some, both outside and inside the province, that Alberta is full of intolerant rednecks, homophobes and religious extremists. I say misconception because in the seven years since I’ve moved here I have yet to meet these people. Instead, I have found Albertans to be very tolerant and accepting. While conservatism is deeply rooted in Alberta’s culture, I truly thought it was the independence from government that runs deep in Albertans and not the divisive and discriminatory beliefs that come from social issues. This is why it saddens me in this election that so many Albertans seem to be ok with the Wildrose position on conscious rights.
The party hasn’t, in my opinion, been clear as to what this entails. They say they simply want to protect Albertans with strong moral beliefs from being forced to do anything that goes against those beliefs. Abortion is often used to demonstrate the need for this. A confusing example since it implies, falsely, that doctors are currently being forced to perform abortions.
I wonder who else would be allowed to refuse to offer services or perform duties based on “moral objections”? Would doctors also be allowed to refuse access to birth control? Are they simply targeting homosexuals when they say they would allow marriage commissioners to refuse to perform ceremonies, or could someone who doesn’t believe in interracial marriage also be allowed to deny services? What about people who are marrying for the second time? Third time? I honestly don’t know which one is worse, allowing anyone with a moral objection to discriminate against any group, or targeting one specific group for discrimination. That is essentially what this policy would do, legitimize discrimination.
Are Albertans really ok with this? Are we really ok with telling a group that has fought long and hard for equal rights we think it is okay to allow people to continue to discriminate and deny them services? I know I’m not and I can only hope come Monday enough Albertans come to the same conclusion.