Saskatchewan’s parental rights legislation passed the legislature on Friday, intensifying the long-winded diatribes from the NDP caucus who voted no.
Bill 137, the Parents’ Bill of Rights Act, received 39 votes in support from the Saskatchewan Party and one vote from the lone Saskatchewan United Party (SUP) representative, Nadine Wilson.
Wilson praised the passing of the bill, calling it a “necessary first step in bringing parents back into their children’s education.”
“Our party is looking forward to bringing about more common-sense solutions while continuing to hold this government to account,” she added.
Unsurprisingly, the entire NDP caucus voted against the legislation, alleging human rights violations.
“The fact that Scott Moe declared the first emergency sitting in 24 years to essentially police what kids call each other on the playground says a whole lot about his priorities,” said NDP Leader Carla Beck at the legislature.
“I think it’s mind-boggling that the premier would prioritize this over fixing our hospitals or addressing the rising cost of gas and groceries,” she added. “Governments of all stripes should focus on getting the basics right.”
NDP Whip Aleana Young claimed the “regressive” government would overturn abortion laws following the passing of Bill 137.
The Parents' Bill of Rights Act mandates that educators and other school administrators inform parents when a child under 16 years of age changes their name or uses different pronouns to affirm their ‘gender identity’.
It also bans third-party sex education organizations from classrooms, such as Planned Parenthood, and makes it mandatory for schools to display the Saskatchewan flag.
“Today the Parents Bill of Rights Act was introduced in the House,” posted Premier Scott Moe on his X (formerly Twitter) feed.
“Unlike the NDP, who want to keep parents in the dark, your Saskatchewan Party government will ensure parents are a part of every important decision involving your child’s education.”
The province introduced Bill 137 on October 12 after the premier ordered an early return to the legislature to debate parental rights in schools.
Moe invoked the notwithstanding clause after UR Pride, a regional advocacy group, filed and received an injunction to stymie the policy from becoming law.
Under Section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, provincial governments can invoke the clause to defend areas of provincial jurisdiction, including education.
“Our government remains fully committed to this policy and to protecting parents’ rights. We are concerned about the uncertainty this ruling creates and are considering all options to remove that uncertainty and ensure this policy is implemented,” the party said in an emailed statement to CJME last month.
Marco Navarro-Génie, an academic by trade, called out the NDP for calling the invocation “undemocratic.”
“That is not correct. It's the exact opposite,” he posted to his X feed.
“Its use asserts the authority of the elected chamber, the representatives of the people, over an activist judge disconnected from the electorate. That's defending democracy against the imposition of the will of a few,” said Navarro-Génie.
On October 13, Leger published a poll where nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents said they want to be informed by school administrators if their child wants to use a different pronoun or change their name.
About half (46%) of Canadians also support invoking the notwithstanding clause to ensure parental consent is legally enshrined on matters of ‘gender identity’.
“The results cannot be ignored,” said Christian Bourque, executive vice president of Leger.
“Ottawa has no say in provincial matters and progressives cannot name a single individual right being violated,” added Navarro-Génie. “There is no right enabling teachers or children to keep secrets from their parents.”
“I think that the majority of Saskatchewan parents would also agree,” said Moe when asked about the poll.
“Parents should always be involved in important decisions involving their children,” said Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill. “This legislation provides clarity that the policy will remain in place.”