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Bill 10 put on hold pending further consultation, Premier calls legislation ‘divisive’
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Thursday, December 4, 2014 5:30PM MST
Last Updated Thursday, December 4, 2014 7:14PM MST
After a controversial piece of legislation passed its second reading in the Alberta Legislature, Premier Jim Prentice put the brakes on Bill 10, saying more consultation with Albertans was needed.
Prentice said in a press conference Thursday that they were putting the legislation on hold, calling Bill 10 “divisive”.
“Unfortunately, I think it’s fair to say that Bill 10 has added to, rather than resolved these divisions, and I accept personal responsibility for that, as the Premier,” Prentice said.
“I’m most disturbed that our gay and lesbian youth are caught in the middle of a very divisive debate. This, they didn’t ask for and for the most part, these are young people trying to find their way in life.”
Prentice said he, and his Progressive Conservative caucus had heard feedback from Albertans on the issue.
“Both I and my caucus have heard loudly and clearly that Albertans wish there to be further consultation on the substance of Bill 10,” Prentice said.
“Many Albertans have expressed the view that this should not be done in haste.”
The premier said he had instructed Government House Leader to place the third reading of Bill 10 on hold – pending further consultation with Albertans.
“Given the emotion on all sides of the discussion, I think that everyone would benefit from a pause.”
Bill 10 was tabled earlier this week and passed first reading Monday, passing second reading at about 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The legislation scuttled a private member’s bill, Bill 202, backed by Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman.
The private member’s bill would have made gay-straight alliances in Alberta schools mandatory, Bill 10 allowed students to appeal to their school board and the courts if they were denied a gay-straight alliance.
An amendment tabled Wednesday removed the references to the courts, and referred students to Alberta Education.
Blakeman said Thursday she was pleased with Thursday's change, but it wasn’t over yet.
“What a difference a day makes,” Blakeman said.
“I think this is good news, I’m not doing the happy dance yet,” Blakeman continued. “I think it’s important that we complete the work that’s already been started here.”
Blakeman said she’d like to see GSA’s mandated in the future, and she’s hoping to resurrect Bill 202.
The PC-backed legislation, and how it was handled in the legislature struck a chord with many Albertans, Kristopher Wells with the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies said.
“So what we’ve seen is this run-around and this sort of comedy of errors,” Wells said. “Legislation written on the fly, no consultation, that’s led to this moment and this incredible frustration.”