11 Apr 2018 Alberta bill blocking info on student activities from parents will be challenged in court
by Lighthouse News
The Alberta government is facing a lawsuit over Bill 24. That’s the law – passed late last year – which expressly forbids school teachers, principals, or other school employees from telling parents about whether their own children join so-called “gay-straight alliance clubs”. The government claimed at the time that the prohibition is about “protecting children from abusive parents”.
But now, a group of 24 religious schools, eight parents and a pair of non-profit groups have launched a constitutional challenge of the law. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms announced the court challenge last week.
In announcing the suit, the JCCF’s John Carpay told a Calgary news conference that “Bill 24 is a threat to the safety of vulnerable and at-risk children in Alberta.”
Carpay told Lighthouse News in a subsequent interview that the suit is based on several basic legal principles, including the fact that Canada is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. “(The Covenant says) that the government must respect the freedom of parents to educate their own children according to their own moral and religious convictions.”
Further, Carpay says, the bill violates parental rights as guaranteed in sections 2 and 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “The Charter right to life, liberty, and security of the person (includes) parental rights. (And) section 2 protects freedom of conscience and religion, which means the right of parents to educate their children in religious schools, and the government has to respect the character and culture of these faith-based schools.”
The actual case likely won’t be heard for at least a year, but there is a court date looming at the end of this month, in which Carpay’s group will be asking for an injunction to stay the effects of the law pending the outcome of the full court process, which could take up to two years. “We want a court order that this legislation is null and void while the court action is taking place.”
ARPA Canada plans to file for intervenor status in the case. André Schutten, ARPA’s Director of Law & Policy, indicated that getting intervenor status in Alberta is particularly difficult but that “we don’t know if we don’t try and so we will.” When asked what the main thrust of ARPA’s argument would be, Schutten explained, “We hope to present the court with a distinctly Reformed perspective on the issue of parental rights, with reference to our covenant obligations particularly made at baptism. We have a strong commitment to parent-directed education that needs to be explained to the court.”
ARPA Canada is excited for this development and hopes that, with God’s blessing, the courts will protect the right and responsibility of parents to direct the education of their children without state interference. Schutten asks, “Please do pray for a blessing on our efforts.”