This letter was submitted to the North Bay Nugget by David Killawee in North Bay, ON.
In reference to article "Alberta conservatives vote to end carbon tax, tell parents if child joins GSA", Monday 07-May-2018, North Bay Nugget.
This letter will be a little long winded so please bear with me. It does come to a point. Many people in this country don't seem to realize how fortunate we are in this country that independence was gained politically, and that our ancestors did'nt have to go to war against a European power. Our military personel didn't gain us our freedoms, but, with the exception of serious crimes against First Nations people, they have defended them. Thanks to them, and militaries from many countries, no Swastika, Rising Sun, or Hammer and Sickle has flown in the wind atop Parliament Hill.
It's a mis-conception that during World War 2, a war born of hate and bigotry (and the fear, cowardice, and ignorance that spawn them) and greed, that our military fought to make the world a better place. That's at best only partially correct. The reality is that they mainly fought to keep the world from getting worse, but it's the nature of war that they could only partially succeed. "Better" had to wait until the war was over. They defended us, but the duty to make things better was, and still is, on all of us. And still we've only partially succeeded. We've also slid down into worse with forcing Native children into Residential Schools, Quebec's language laws, Minimum Mandatory Sentencing, and many other ways.
Now this week of all weeks, this week when we remember those who fought, suffered, and especially those who died, to stop monsters and give us the chance to do better we find yet another group trying to make things worse.
As stated in the article 57% of the UPC ( United Conservative Party) convention delegates voted in favour of having school staff informing parents if their children join certain clubs including GSAs (Gay Straight Alliance), or similar clubs effectively outing these kids.
Regardless of the terms that these delegates use, they're trying to get teachers to be complicit in their bigotry, and worse, dump the responsibility of putting some of these kids in danger on teachers who would have no recourse but to use a version of "I was just following orders" (that would be the cowardice I mentioned earlier).
This next part of the lettter is directed to the delegates in question. Delegates who would put these kids at risk from potentially abusive, or situationaly dangerous parents. Neither you, sitting MPPs, or anyone else have any authority to put children in harms way. You are not generals who can order soldiers into combat, nor police captains who can send officers into potential firefights. Anyone, including you, who tries to get this into law or school policy is directly responsible for any harm suffered by these kids, even if the student is over 18, along with whoever does the actual reporting to parents, and is subject to prosecution. Just putting this into law or policy can endanger some kids and therefore is the crime, so you cannot distance or shield yourselves from prosecution, nor can you claim ignorance of the risk you would be putting some of these kids at. I'm actually wondering if the 57% can be prosecuted now. Now I understand that it's unlikely that some obscure letter in a local Ontario newspaper will have much impact, so I want you to understand that published or not, this letter is also going to the RCMP, Alberta Provincial Police, Ministry of Education, as many Alberta school boards as possible... You get the picture. I know that there are limits to what I can do to make the world better, but I can do my part to protect these kids from you.
To any students feeling pressured, don't give up, or give in. These delegates are making use of fear, intimidation and threat, these are terrorist tactics, it makes them weak not you. The only power they have is what you give them, so give them nothing. You win by living on your own terms not their's.
Do better, be better, honour and remember those who gave us the opportunity and responsibility to make it happen
North Bay, ON
At SOS Alberta we support GSAs. We support the right of students to form GSAs in their schools. Its the law and GSAs help create a positive school culture. GSAs are about community building and supporting kids. We also agree that parents do not need to be informed when their child has joined a GSA at their school. GSAs are social clubs akin to leadership club or amnesty international club or even a book club. Parents are not being excluded. Parents are a valuable part of the school community and there are many ways for parents to be involved. If parents want to know what is happening at their kid's school there are many ways to find out. Talk to your kids, your relationship with your child will be the best measure of what they disclose to you. Talk to your school's principal if you have questions about the school or board policies. Join your school council, get involved. If you have questions about GSAs and why privacy is an issue there are many great resources available. We have started to compile some here: GSA Resources. Take the time to listen to the voices of people who are involved in GSAs.
Show your support for students and GSAs by wearing one of our buttons.