Bill 207 Answering a Question No One Was Asking

When private members Bill 207 was first tabled by Dan Williams, the Member for Peace River, on November 7, it set off a firestorm across the province. Recent corruption scandals have taken the spotlight off of the bill, and key members of the UCP have spoken out against it, but it too shows how the UCP are legislating on issues they did not campaign on, and care nothing of stakeholders, political opponents, or governing for all Albertans.

The bill, also known as the Conscience Rights Protections Act, seems to be the answer to a question no one was asking. It allows healthcare workers the ability to refuse care based on moral or religious grounds. This opens the doors for doctors to refuse providing birth control measures for women, referrals for assisted suicide to those who are suffering and have made the incredibly hard decision to end their life, or even care for patients who are members of the LGBTQ community.

The bill has only passed first reading and iis currently being looked at in committee. However, the bill’s sponsor maintains that this will not impact any services already provided to Albertans. But the UCP bill clearly puts Albertan’s access to services at the mercy of the healthcare providers’ moral or religious discretion.

To be clear, this bill is unnecessary, abhorrent, and allows for discriminatory access to healthcare for patients. It’s also exactly the kind of bill that Albertans were warned would come from the UCP. When Stephen Harper’s CPC was attacked for having a hidden agenda, Harper shut down any bills legislating on social issues down. Kenney appears unwilling to do the same. Why? It is the UCPs way of legislating social issues without the actual Government getting its hands dirty.

The larger, more insidious part of this whole scenario is that this is the UCP’s trail balloon for other socially regressive legislation. This bill is designed to see how far Albertans can be pushed in accepting regressive social policy. It is being presented by one of Premier Kenney’s former political staffers, and based on the Premiers track record as leader of the UCP, nothing comes out of the UCP side of the Legislature without his approval. And even if this bill fails, there will be more. The current Government’s strategy of shock and awe when it comes to legislation shows that if they keep people outraged at something new nearly every single day, no one will be able to remain focused on what is going on.

Sounds like a familiar scenario.

This bill doesn’t help the economy, get people back to work or get pipelines in the ground, which were the pillars of the UCP campaign just half a year ago. It didn’t take long for the social regressive party that promised not to legislate on social matters to start doing just that.


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