CALGARY, AB March 20, 2012 – The League has contacted Alberta bishops and school officials to express concerns about Bill 2, the new Education Act. The bill raises questions about the ability to teach religious beliefs that could be interpreted to conflict with the Alberta Human Rights Act.
With the assistance of Alberta director Luke Campbell, we have asked for clarification that the changes will not negatively impact Catholic schools’ rights.
“This bill does not fully entrench for parents of all backgrounds the primary role as educators, particularly in matters of moral and religious instruction” the League said in its message to bishops and other Catholic leaders. “Moreover, the Act’s inclusion of the Alberta Human Rights Act is also disconcerting since the fundamental premises of this inclusion remain vague. We need clarification that any teacher – public, separate, private or home-school based- would be able to offer instruction in the course of his/her professional duties, particularly on religious topics, without fear of reprisal based on often arbitrary conclusions of the AHR commission.
“The CCRL encourages all those with a direct responsibility over Catholic educational ethos and instruction to contact the Minister of Education and the Premier to express these concerns. We need an assurance that the denominational rights of Catholic schools will be respected, as well as the primary rights of parents as the first educators of their children.”
The rights of parents as first educators of their children are upheld in numerous documents in international protocols as well as within Canada. These documents include the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 12 and 26), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 18). The Catechism of the Catholic Church also refers to this parental right.
* Note: Bill 2 did not pass in the Alberta Legislature in a vote March 22. The efforts of all those who were asking for more information, and clarification on the sections of this bill which raised serious concerns are much appreciated.