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Legislature back to deal with parental rights legislation

Legislation to be introduced to require parental inclusion and consent in schools; Notwithstanding Clause to be invoked

REGINA - This afternoon the Saskatchewan legislature will resume with a special sitting to deal with legislation on parental consent in schools.

The Sask Party government plans to pass legislation to protect parental rights, with respect to the province’s new policy to require schools to obtain consent from parents for name and pronoun changes of students under age 16.

The special sitting was called by Premier Scott Moe on Sept. 28 after a King’s Bench judge had issued an interim injunction pausing the new policy. The plan is for the government to use the the Notwithstanding Clause of the Constitution in its legislation to implement the Parental Inclusion and Consent policy.

The legislation will be opposed by the opposition New Democrats, who issued a news release Tuesday accusing the province of ignoring other issues in education such as infrastructure challenges.

On Tuesday morning, Opposition Leader Carla Beck and Education Critic Matt Love were in Saskatoon where they drew attention to issues at Monique-Rousseau elementary school, which has a hole in its roof and recently also experienced flooding.

“There’s a gaping hole in the roof of this school and the Premier has called an emergency debate over what kids call each other on the playground,” said Beck in a news release. “Our schools are literally crumbling before our eyes and parents are rightly concerned that the government doesn’t care about the issues that matter most.” 

There were a number of demonstrations both for and against the legislation Tuesday. A group of pro-parental rights demonstrators had already set up in the lawn across from the Legislature this morning, with a number of speakers voicing their support for the government's legislation.

Around noon, a demonstration took place against the legislation, with a coalition of labour organizations including the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, SGEU, CUPE and the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation staging a “Rally for our Rights” outside the legislature. 

That rally took place prior to the sitting in the legislature which starts this afternoon. The rally organizers were located right next to where the parental rights demonstrators were situated and a line of police officers came in to stand between the two groups to maintain order.

How long this sitting of the Legislature will last is unclear. The initial indication is that the business today will be routine, with the government bringing a Notice of Introduction today. There are also reports this morning that the Opposition will attempt to filibuster the legislation.

Today's sitting is considered part of the 2022-23 session of the Legislature, and as such there will be no Speech from the Throne today. The new 2023-24 Session of the legislature is still due to begin on Oct. 25.

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