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Opposition NDP fights over UCP Education Act in marathon meeting
A marathon session in Alberta’s Legislature continued well into the early hours of Thursday morning after the United Conservative Party unveiled its new framework for grade-school education.
As of 6:00 a.m., the Official Opposition NDP members remained in the legislature to fight against bills related to worker’s rights, health care and most notably, education.
NDP critics say the UCPs introduction of Bill 8 is nothing more than a cover up to out gay students.
Bill 8, the Education Amendment Act of 2019, builds off the passed, but not proclaimed, Education Act of 2012.
"Once amended, the Education Act will serve as a foundation of excellence for years to come," said Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education, in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. "The act brings to life the vision for a modern education shared by thousands of Albertans through widespread consultation."
"This legislation is based on the values we believe are fundamental to supporting our students."
The yet-to-be passed law does not maintain the protections that were put in place by the previous government for gay-straight alliance (GSA) members and could result in a ban on the use of the word 'gay' in school club names.
The New Democratic Party's Bill 24 protected students from being outed for joining a GSA.
The UCP says under its act, the disclosure of GSA participation would only be justified if a student was considered to be 'at risk of harm'.
"The intention is to balance the need that, at times, students have around the way that they want to create their organization," said LaGrange, "but also to allow for occasions where there is a need for parents to be involved."
The act would also remove the requirement that principals immediately grant approval to requests to form a GSA at a school. Students facing delays in the creation of a sanctioned GSA would need to launch an appeal to the school board and education minister.
Sarah Hoffman, NDP education critic, questions the Minister of Education's motives. "Either this is intentional, she's intentionally creating massive loopholes to put kids at risk, or she's executing the direction of her premier."
If Bill 8 is passed, the changes would go into effect in September.
MLAs remain in the legislature at this time.
The meeting began at 7 p.m. Wednesday and could run up until 11 a.m. Thursday.
(With files from CTV's Brenna Rose and MarkVillani)