Letter: Conscious rights would legitimize discrimination

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.

E. Watson

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  1. The Wildrose Party seems to be filling Albertans heads with a lot of misconceptions.

    It’s probably somewhat the fault of the ruling PC Party, but the Wildrose has done a good job campaigning on false truths like telling Albertans that if the proposed Bill to change the penalty for impaired driving passes, it will kill businesses with liquor licenses, and the “Average Albertan will no longer be able to have a glass of wine with their meal”. This is NOT true. The Bill would NOT change the legal limit for a 24 hr license suspension (0.05), it would increase the amount of time that you would lose you license for depending on how many prior offenses you had. Therefore you can have just as much wine before this Bill becomes law as you can after it becomese law.

    For candidates in the BMW constituency. You might have noticed all the pro-Wildrose editorials in the Edmonton Sun by Lorne Gunter. Lorne worked at the Alberta Report with Ezra Lavant, and your Wildrose Candidate Link Byfield. The Alberta Report was charged by the Human Right Commission for comments they made in the Alberta Report, so it doesn’t seem like much of a coincidence that the Wildrose Party wants to abolish the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Some may say that they have the freedom of speech to write what they want in their newspapers, magazines, and blogs, but I don’t personally want to live in a Province where people are free to use this as a way to promote hatred upon other people and get away with it.


  2. So, E. Watson, you are fine with taking away the rights of some Albertans to live by their principles? Why do you feel it is acceptable to discriminate against some people and not others?

    Your argument about nurses and doctors, marriage commissioners and others is premised on the fact that if there are no options. Yet for every nurse not wanting to assist with abortions, there are others who will. There are many marriage commissioners to choose from.

    Freedom of conscience is a valauble commodity and ought not be discounted by any political party. If an individual’s actions incite harm, then that should be dealt with, but otherwise freedom of beleif and expression should not be coerced.

    No, I am not a Wild Rose supporter.

  3. Conscience rights are awesome if you are the favoured party…

    They suck serious slew water if you aren’t though.

    Priests can follow doctrine. Public servants should follow law.


    Thomas Kirsop

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