Saskatchewan to invoke 'notwithstanding clause' to table 'parental rights' legislation

On September 28, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe pledged to use the notwithstanding clause in response to a court injunction that bans a policy on parental consent in schools.

Saskatchewan to invoke 'notwithstanding clause' to table 'parental rights' legislation
Facebook/ Scott Moe
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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe will not go quietly into the night on parental rights.

On Thursday, the Saskatchewan Party pledged to use the notwithstanding clause in response to a court injunction that bans a policy on parental consent in schools.

Justice Michael Megaw granted the injunction, writing that “the protection of these youth surpasses that interest expressed by the Government, pending a full and complete hearing into the constitutionality of this Policy.”

NDP education critic Matt Love welcomed the ruling in an emailed statement to CJME News

“The government should not come forward with legislation in the fall sitting to put this policy into law, and they certainly shouldn’t do so relying on the notwithstanding clause to push this policy forward,” he said.

Moe said his government is “extremely dismayed” by the “judicial overreach” of the court, which temporarily blocks the implementation of the Parental Inclusion and Consent Policy.

“[It is] a policy which has the strong support of a majority of Saskatchewan residents, in particular, Saskatchewan parents,” he contends, pledging action “to ensure the rights of Saskatchewan parents are protected.”

Under Section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, provincial governments can invoke the notwithstanding clause to defend areas of provincial jurisdiction.

“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.

Earlier this month, Saskatchewan’s Children’s Advocate said the policy violates the rights of vulnerable children.

Love added that Justice Megaw’s determination is proof that the youth will suffer “irreparable harm.”

However, one academic doesn’t believe progressives are on the right side of history in supporting the court injunction.

Marco Navarro-Génie posted on X (formerly Twitter) Friday morning that “woke Progressives are losing their heads” over Moe’s announcement to use the notwithstanding clause.

“They're whipping themselves into the frenzied belief that Moe alone is using section 33 to override the Charter, which is a way to suggest that it is something undemocratic,” he said. 

“But that is not correct. It's the exact opposite.”

Navarro-Génie says use of the clause affirms the Charter — on a matter related to exclusive provincial jurisdiction: education.

“Ottawa has no say in provincial matters and progressives cannot name a single individual right being violated. There is no right enabling teachers or children to keep secrets from their parents,” he added.

“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.”

Navarro-Génie says “the sky won't fall” after Friday’s announcement, as that is what the framers of the Constitution, including former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, accepted in 1982.

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  • By Tamara Ugolini


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