Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Alberta Election: Are Conscience Issues Bogus?

With the Alberta election less than two weeks away, the initial momentum enjoyed by the Wildrose party seems to be shifting, with latest polls indicating a neck on neck race.  While the Wildrose Party campaigned primarily on fiscal issues, the question of conscience entered the race after a question raised by  a Calgary blogger, Jane Cawthorne, on each parties position on abortion.  The Wildrose response:

“The legalities of abortion fall under federal jurisdiction. We respect that Albertans view social issues differently, which is why Wildrose would immediately introduce legislation allowing citizens to put issues like abortion to a citizen-initiated referendum.”

Although there was an immediate clarification by Danielle Smith on the issue, the question and responses appear to have raised doubt in the minds of the electorate. 

 “Citizen initiative is and has always been an important part of the Wildrose platform.  However, any initiative must first be vetted by a federally-appointed judge to determine whether or not it is constitutional.”

Alison Reford is using the Wildrose conscience policy as a wedge issue and it appears to be working.

“I was absolutely amazed we were having this conversation in Alberta because I believe that all Albertans want to live in a place where we respect each other, where we feel safe,”

Is the issue of conscience right bogus?  You bet it is.  First of all the rights of marriage commissioners and doctors is already enshrined.  Abortions, which are mostly performed in larger centres like Edmonton and Calgary, have doctors that don't object to these procedures.  Marriage Commissioners are not in the employ of the Alberta government and get paid by the clients who hire them to perform their marriages.

" For practical purposes, the issue doesn’t actually mean much. Health care providers already have conscience clauses codified in their own standards of practice. Both the Alberta College of Pharmacists, and the College of Physicians and Services allow practitioners to opt-out of procedures or services that they find personally problematic. However, health care workers must then refer patients to other facilities."  National Post

Despite the fact that marriage commissioners can already opt out of performing marriage for same sex couples, there have been no complaints in the Province from couples about commissioners who are unwilling to marry them. 

The issue, IMHO, has been fabricated, strays from the real issues of property rights, civil liberties, fiscal irresponsibility and general arrogance of Tories, who seem to think they have an entitlement to govern.  Instead of discussing the overspending culture of Progressive Conservatives, it appears that fear mongering is right out the playbook of Liberals in Central Canada and Obama Administration in the U.S. 

Perhaps Albertans should be afraid of Alison Redford, who is a big "Progressive" and very little "conservative."  Let's just remember that both the Liberal Party and New Democratic Parties of Alberta are not a home for someone with political ambition in Alberta.  The Progressive Conservative Party has become the home of ambitious Liberals.  

The past two weeks have been full of promises and more spending, despite the rush to passing a budget prior to the election.  Voters should take a look at the various party platforms and make up their minds.  Don't let bogus issues determine how you vote.  

Check out the Party Platforms

Thursday, April 12th, will be the Leader's Debate, broadcast from 6:30 pm to 8 pm.  Get engaged and watch it.  After the debate there are eleven more days to pose direct questions to the leaders.  First and foremost get out and vote. 

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