Westwind Weekly News
Grant Hunter, the UCP MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner, was one of almost 3,000 members who flocked to Red Deer for the inaugural party convention from May 4 to 6.
“It was amazing,” said Hunter. “We thought there would be 1,000 people, but yet we had 2,600 people come out.”
He added that there was “lots of energy in the room” and attendance was so high that they needed two extra rooms for overflow.
The convention had its share of controversy — namely, motion 30, which requires parental consent for kids studying any topics of a religious or sexual nature in Alberta schools.
The resolution, which critics say will require schools to inform parents of students who join gay-straight alliances, passed with 57 per cent of the vote.
Hunter says he wasn’t in the main room for that vote, but described the motion as “poorly-written,” echoing UCP leader Jason Kenney.
“Maybe it was a little bit difficult for people in the convention to see what it was saying,” Hunter said.
“The position that we take as the UCP is this — we have been very clear since Bill 24 came out in the last session before this one, that we are not opposed to GSAs.
“We’re certainly not saying that a parent has to be notified when their son or daughter is in a GSA.”
Bill 24 is the NDP legislation that makes it illegal for schools to inform parents of their children’s participation in a GSA without the child’s approval, which the UCP opposed.
Hunter said the party’s opposition to that bill is consistent with Section 50.1 of the School Act, which requires that parents be notified when “courses of study, educational programs or instructional materials … include subject-matter that deals primarily and explicitly with religion or human sexuality.”
“I think that was the intent of (resolution 30),” said Hunter. “I’m just not sure it was written as clearly as it could be.
“We need to stop using over-heated rhetoric on this issue.”
He emphasized that resolution 30 was only one of 146 motions that made it to the convention floor.
“Sometimes democracy is messy,” said Hunter. “In this situation, are the NDP (and) liberal media blowing this out of proportion? Albertans will have to decide that.”
–With files from Allison Billings