Saskatchewan invoked the notwithstanding clause Thursday to table legislation that protects parental rights in all school environments.
According to a government news release, Bill 137 “outlines a number of rights that parents have […] in their children’s education […] to ensure parents provide consent if a child wants to change their gender identification in school.”
The Saskatchewan government said the bill mandates that parental consent is a prerequisite for students to change their ‘gender identity’ and name or pronouns in schools when under 16.
Unsurprisingly, the bill received unanimous support by Saskatchewan Party MLAs and Saskatchewan United Party leader Nadine Wilson during its first reading.
"Parents should always be involved in important decisions involving their children," said Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill in the release.
“The Parental Inclusion and Consent policy introduced in August and now this new legislation we are introducing today will ensure that continues to be the case."
Last month, Premier Scott Moe vowed to invoke the notwithstanding clause after UR Pride, a regional advocacy group, filed and received an injunction to stymie the policy from becoming law.
In response, Moe called all MLAs to return two weeks early to the Legislature and advance the legislation sooner.
According to a Leger poll, nearly half (46%) of Canadians support provincial governments using the notwithstanding clause to ensure parental consent is legally enshrined on matters of ‘gender identity.’
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents want school administrators to inform them if their children want to use a different pronoun or gender.
“The results cannot be ignored,” said Christian Bourque, executive vice-president of Leger, who noted that support for parental rights is not given “at any cost.”
Only 45% of respondents support informing parents if the child expresses concerns for their safety.
On Thursday, all 14 Saskatchewan NDP MLAs opposed the legislation, which also mandates that educators inform parents on the sexual health curriculum two weeks before instruction and to permit parents the chance to revoke their child’s participation.
However, on the topics of sexual orientation and ‘gender identity’ being taught in schools, Bourque said there is a considerable divide in Canada.
Nearly half (46%) of residents said only parents should discuss either sexual orientation and ‘gender identity’ and not schools.
The poll also revealed that only 37% supported using the notwithstanding clause to ban discussions about sexual orientation and ‘gender identity’ in schools altogether. A quarter (24%) of respondents said they didn’t know.