Alberta Premier Danielle Smith stands her ground when asked to condemn drag queen story hour protestors

Smith objected to the NDP's attempts to divide people and committed to protecting students and sexual minorities.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith stands her ground when asked to condemn drag queen story hour protestors
Danielle Smith/ Facebook
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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith refused to condemn drag queen story hour protesters Friday after being asked her stance at the Legislature.

"Calgary Public Library has partnered with Calgary Pride for five years to host Reading with Royalty — these are family-friendly events that celebrate diversity, promote inclusion, and spark the imagination by telling stories and singing songs," said NDP MLA Janis Irwin. 

During drag queen story hours, adults dressed in drag read to children in recreational facilities, typically libraries, earning tense pushback from concerned parents.

Libraries across Canada — including Halifax, Moncton, and Coquitlam — have faced similar protests in recent months.

"But this year, the library was forced to postpone Reading with Royalty because a [few] people chose to harass children and families to spew hate against fabulous Alberta drag queens," continued Irwin.

She asked the premier to condemn these supposed "acts of bigotry."

Smith responded: "Alberta is committed to [protecting] children and diversity, parental choice, and the right to peaceful protest." 

She urged that events be age appropriate when children are present.

"My understanding of the reading time events, like the one in Calgary, is that they are kept age-appropriate and minors attending them have the consent of their parents."

The Alberta Opposition interrupted several times while the premier issued remarks on the contentious drag queen story hours, which have angered parents and notable figures like Calgary Pastor Derek Reimer, 36, who contend these events groom children.

Smith added: "We also believe in the peaceful right to protest, as long as that is done within the bounds of the law.

Irwin shook her head and congratulated Calgary City Council for implementing a second bylaw, called the safe and inclusive access bylaw, to prevent harassment of people entering or leaving public libraries or recreational facility centres by setting up a bubble zone of 100 metres.

Charges under each bylaw carry a maximum penalty of up to $10,000 or six months in prison.

"It's so sad they needed to do this, but here we are," remarked Irwin, adding: "Does the UCP support the new City of Calgary bylaws?"

Smith responded: "We know municipalities are responsible for creating bylaws — I would encourage anyone concerned to reach out to their councillor and the mayor's office to express their view."

She reminded the Official Opposition that her government embedded provincial sheriffs within the Calgary Police Service to curb public disorder and ensure safe streets for all.

Irwin rose at the Legislature and became increasingly testy in her subsequent remarks.

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them because this is the same UCP government, and the first and only government in Canada, to remove protections for [sexual minorities]. That's right - this is the first provincial government to roll back rights when they remove legal privacy protections and limit students' ability to form GSAs in schools."

Irwin then accused the province of putting sexual minorities in danger.

"Does the premier regret her predecessor's attack on young Albertans, and, if so, what tangible steps will she take to fix that terrible relationship [with sexual minorities]?"

Smith objected to the NDP's attempts to divide people and committed to protecting students and sexual minorities.

NDP leader Rachel Notley admitted that she mused about stepping aside after losing to the UCP in the 2019 provincial election. However, those deliberations changed after her conservative opponents introduced and passed legislation in 2019 that removed measures brought in by the NDP to strengthen protections for gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in schools.

While the bill included provisions for the alliances, Notley said it diluted the rules permitting schools to delay setting up GSAs and inform parents if their children join one.

Though the UCP said it did not support automatic parental notification, they claimed the NDP's legislation was "too blunt an instrument." Still, they cautioned school staff to sometimes use their judgment to inform parents.

Notley told a crowd of over 100 supporters during last Saturday's nomination meeting that mere minutes after the UCP passed Bill 8, which she called "Bill Hate," its members posed for photos to mark the end of the session by splashing in the reflecting pool on the legislature grounds.

"This is how your UCP government celebrated the decision to end protections against bullying for children who just needed to feel safe," said Notley. She compared the photo of the UCP members to the opening credits of the TV show "Friends."

Notley added that GSAs foster acceptance of sexual minority youth in schools and prevent bullying on sexual orientation.

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  • By Ezra Levant

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