Local residents join backlash against Bill 2
By: Dawn Smith
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012 06:00 am
Several Airdronians were part of a group of 2,100 Albertans who rallied against Bill 2, The Education Act at the Legislature in Edmonton, March 19.
Greg Lammiman, a former public school teacher and father of six, attended the rally to express his concern that his right to pass on his traditional beliefs in a home school setting is being threatened.
Lammiman and other protestors are concerned that Bill 2 forces home schools, Catholic and private schools to teach within the limits of the Human Rights Act as interpreted by the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
That body, said Lammiman, has historically been very unfriendly to anyone holding Judeo-Christian values.
“Anyone who holds those beliefs is dragged through the kangaroo court with no appeals,” said Lammiman. “My concern isn’t just as a home school dad.”
Having been a public school teacher for over 30 years, every teacher should be concerned about being under the Human Rights Act. There is no recourse for the person who is being investigated.”
Lammiman said he would like to see Bill 2 amended to remove the reference to the Alberta Human Rights Act, because as a home school family, all the activities in his home are subject to investigation.
However, Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta’s education minister, says the bill will not impact religious teachings.
“There is nothing in the legislation that is aimed in any way to dilute the rights and freedoms of parents,” said Lukaszuk.
Lukaszuk went on to explain that whether the Human Rights Act was named in Bill 2 or not, the legislation trumps the Education Act.
“(The legislation) protects everybody,” he said. “This brings balance to the legislation.”
Lukaszuk said he is concerned Bill 2 will be halted during third reading, a move that would see a “really inspirational” piece of legislation fail.
“We had thousands of parents support it, now it looks like it will die on this agenda,” said Lukaszuk. “It is frustrating because a lot of people put a lot of time into this Act.”
Lukaszuk said the legislation, which was crafted to replace the current Education Act passed in the 1980s, will combat bullying, allows for partnerships between secondary schools and high schools, and gives more rights to school boards and student councils.
Home school Legal Defense Association board member and Rocky View resident Dan Reinhardt, a father of four who formerly home schooled, said his only problem with the legislation is its reference to the Human Rights Act.
He is concerned Bill 2 gives the right for the Alberta Human Rights Commission to dictate to every classroom in the Province including preschools, charter, public, private and home schools.
He said the proposed legislation is a direct attack against parental rights and religious freedom.
“The reason is not because home schoolers are against basic human rights, it is because they (the Commission) have consistently ruled against traditional values,” said Reinhardt.
“This is draconian intervention and thought control. We believe that children are given to parents, not to the Province.”
Airdrie-Chestermere MLA Rob Anderson is also against the legislation, saying it would affect thousands of Airdrie students attending Catholic, Christian and home-based schools.
“It is a terrible section of the bill and we are not going to be supporting it until it is changed,” said Anderson.
“It essentially forces parents who want to educate their children in a faith-based program, such as Catholic school, to abide by the rulings of the human rights tribunals.
“It is not right to force people to teach something to their kids that are against their beliefs.”
Anderson said should the legislation be passed, parents who refuse to comply will be at risk of having their school decertified, and their children forced to attend public school.
As of press time, third reading of Bill 2, was being debated in the Legislature.