I’ve been disappointed in politics. I’ve been angry. But this is the first time I’ve been afraid.
The first scary thought? Conscience Rights: allowing a civil servant to not perform certain actions (like abortion or gay marriage) if their conscience is against it.
No one invokes ‘conscience rights’ if they don’t plan to use them. A party that advocates this is inherently approving of discrimination. This phrase is cloaked in ‘rights’ wording, but it sidesteps the fact that the people who are being given these rights are civil servants and health providers. It isn’t impossible to imagine law-enforcement being granted similar ‘rights’ on how they enforce the law.
Everybody knows at least one person that could be refused care or service based on conscience rights. Think of that friend or loved one (or yourself) not being served by conscience rights and the Wildrose. That puts a face and a reality to this obscure ‘right’ that civil servants might be missing.
(I’d also love to know how many civil servants chose their work resenting the fact that they have to care for people they disagree with. Up to now, it couldn’t have been much of a surprise, could it? Up to now, it’s seemed like part of the package.)
When other parties try to corner them on the issue, the Wildrose accuses them of ‘fear-mongering,’ and try to shift the conversation away from the issue, trying to sound like a victim (or better, a martyr) of the bullying press. Underneath that evasion is the fact that they don’t deny the policy. They are fundamentally saying that some citizens are worth more to them than others.
There are numerous candidates of Wildrose across Alberta that have a history of discrimination, and even the desire to ‘limit human rights.’ I’ll direct you to here:
See for yourself. The important note here is that Wildrose has within its ranks people who believe that some people are worth discriminating against. That there are people who must be changed or ruled over.
While in the process of writing this post, the Wildrose party has had two scandals from within its ranks. Allan Hunsperger’s year-old blog post surfaces, indicating an intolerant attitude toward the gay community. Ron Leech stated that as a caucasian, he had an advantage in dealing with his constituents. (He also has a history of intolerance towards homosexuality: http://faithandmedia.org/articles/show/233)
Danielle Smith has boldly chosen to defend rather than chastise her party members, twisting the situation into a chance to defend free speech. She also states that her party has no desire to legislate on contentious issues and that they believe in a separation between church and state. If this is true, why do they have active, staunchly conservative religious leaders in their party?
Never mind what Danielle Smith believes, should we expect someone with these values to leave them at the door when deciding on provincial policies?
This led me to investigate on the Wildrose home turf: their policy book, available on their website. Specifically, page 124. (http://www.wildrose.ca/policy/policy-green-book/) They attempt to compare the current Human Rights commission system with their planned court-based system. Though the rhetoric is subtle, the shift they are creating places more emphasis on defending and minimizing the impact to those who have been accused of human rights offenses.
IF Advocate determines there are grounds to proceed, will proceed with the complaint.
Defendant has the right to make a full and fair defense in front of a judge.
Defendants found innocent will have their court costs paid for.
The language here clearly speaks of emphasizing the assumptive innocence of the defendant. But that little ‘if’… the person deciding that would be placed by the Wildrose. A party full of members who have a history of discrimination and intolerance. (Globe and Mail: Meet the Wildrose Bunch)
There are other promises coming from Wildrose that are tenuous at best, but what seems clearest is that this party wants to force the clock backwards, to a mythical, less complicated, and fundamentally less diverse, time. Their economic policies have been roundly criticized. But it’s not the more bureaucratic elements of the party that scare me most. It’s the people in it, and what they believe. I don’t trust them, and I don’t think you should either.
It all puts me in mind of a story that’s been moving around the internet lately, of Katherine Switzer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathrine_Switzer). One blogger put it like this:
Who are you in this story? The harbinger of progress and equality? The rallying troops willing to stand up for what’s right? Or just another Bull Connor, aggressively fighting against integration and inclusion?