Every Rose Has Its Thorns

Alberta heads to the polls on April 23. After 40 years of Conservative rule, the province is on the cusp of doing one of its patented vote transfers and shifting over to another party to carry the ultra conservative yay-oil-screw-the-environment-and-everything-else standard for another generation.

That party would be the Wildrose Party which is headed by Danielle Smith (pictured). It currently enjoys a slim lead in the polls, and could be in line to form a majority government.

The party’s hit a bit of a bump in the road in the last few days though over a so-called “conscience rights” clause in its constitution that reads: “Wildrose members believe the Government of Alberta should implement legislation protecting the ‘conscience rights’ of health-care professionals.”

Here’s the Globe & Mail’s take on the clause here. But in a nutshell, it’s being interpreted as meaning doctors and other health care professionals like nurses and pharmacists would able to refuse to perform services related to abortion or birth control if it went against their conscience based on religious or other grounds. Similarly, civil marriage commissioners would be able to refuse to marry gay couples (and presumably any other couple that failed to meet their ideal of what a married couple should be).

After that, who really knows how far the policy would extend. If certain classes of public servants have conscience rights, then why shouldn’t all public servants no matter what service they provide?  When questioned on the policy, Smith attacked party critics. Here’s a quote from a Calgary Herald report. “It’s typical of liberal politicians to demonize a conservative party using fear-mongering. I think Albertans won’t fall for it.”

Maybe they won’t.  But plenty of people sure seem to be concerned. And for good reason.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your inferior human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

8 thoughts on “Every Rose Has Its Thorns”

  1. I was just complaining about conscience rights the other day.

    Apparently the only time conservative politicians will defend worker’s rights is when those “rights” involve denying women health care or discriminating against same-sex couples. Such sweethearts.

  2. You use a conscience right with where you work,who you vote for , who you donate to. Etc. Etc. Gee Stephen I am for same sex marriage, I am pro choice and I voted CPC, nice generalization.

  3. #2 Following Robocallgate and the election deception on the F-35s, do you regret your vote? I know I’d feel like a tool.

  4. Brian! You need to get your guys back on track! They need you! Talk some sense into them!

  5. #2,3,4 – What does discussing the Federal Progressive Conservatives have anything to do with this article? This article pertains to Alberta’s provincial politics and upcoming provincial election. Nothing to do with federal politics or federal parties.

    Now getting back on track…
    Two right wing parties competing. Will it be anymore different if the Wild Rose party wins over the existing 40 year dominating PC party?

  6. Its my opinion Stephen that a doctor who refuses to perform an abortion because of a conscience issue but abortion is still legal is not breaking any laws. I am Mennonite so as a conscience right I refuse to swear an oath because of my religion I do not believe . Conscience rights are protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  7. @Anonymous: Thanks for the comment. I’m no expert but at the most cursory of glances, Wildrose seems more right wing than the Alberta PCs. For example, expanded two-tier health care is a campaign platform of theirs.

    Also: the federal Conservatives aren’t off topic, because the topic isn’t just Alberta — it’s social conservatism, too. You’ll find its malignant presence in most North American conservative political parties and movements, and there are robust examples in Stephen Harper’s Conservative caucus and the U.S. Republican Party. Interestingly, successful conservative parties, like the Sask. Party, have either purged, muzzled or hidden these voices.

  8. Thanks for the comment, Brian. It’s my understanding that there are lots of medical fields for a doctor who doesn’t want to perform abortions. If you’re an obstetrician, it’s part of the job. If not, moot point. All we’re saying is, don’t take on jobs you can’t do because of your beliefs.

    I suspect that conscience rights for doctors is a mostly hypothetical issue, anyway. They’re not a hypothetical issue for, for example, pharmacists and marriage commissioners. The former must not be allowed to use their personal beliefs to get away with shenanigans like refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control or the morning after pill. And if you want to be a be a marriage commissioner, you can’t be permitted to discriminate against same-sex couples.

    Unrelated trivia: My closest friends in my teens and early 20s were social justice-type Mennonites (or at least had Mennonite parents). They rocked. They could also drink a rhino under a table.

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