Alberta heads to the polls on April 23. After 40 years of Conservative rule, the province is on the cusp of doing one of its patented vote transfers and shifting over to another party to carry the ultra conservative yay-oil-screw-the-environment-and-everything-else standard for another generation.
That party would be the Wildrose Party which is headed by Danielle Smith (pictured). It currently enjoys a slim lead in the polls, and could be in line to form a majority government.
The party’s hit a bit of a bump in the road in the last few days though over a so-called “conscience rights” clause in its constitution that reads: “Wildrose members believe the Government of Alberta should implement legislation protecting the ‘conscience rights’ of health-care professionals.”
Here’s the Globe & Mail’s take on the clause here. But in a nutshell, it’s being interpreted as meaning doctors and other health care professionals like nurses and pharmacists would able to refuse to perform services related to abortion or birth control if it went against their conscience based on religious or other grounds. Similarly, civil marriage commissioners would be able to refuse to marry gay couples (and presumably any other couple that failed to meet their ideal of what a married couple should be).
After that, who really knows how far the policy would extend. If certain classes of public servants have conscience rights, then why shouldn’t all public servants no matter what service they provide? When questioned on the policy, Smith attacked party critics. Here’s a quote from a Calgary Herald report. “It’s typical of liberal politicians to demonize a conservative party using fear-mongering. I think Albertans won’t fall for it.”
Maybe they won’t. But plenty of people sure seem to be concerned. And for good reason.