Monday, February 22, 2016

Minutes from the Community Meeting with Grant Hunter, MLA

Friday, February 12, 2016
Community Meeting with Grant Hunter, MLA

FACILITATOR QUESTIONS
Grant Hunter’s comments:
- He got into this because he is a father and a grandfather – he’s doing this for his kids and his grandkids
- This is a town-hall meeting – these meetings are great – to be able to see the people and to talk with them


QUESTION: In politics, we often find ourselves speaking about “parties” when for most of us, being involved politically is far from a “party”. Could you explain the purpose of political parties?
ANSWER:
- A political party is a representation of ideologies and policies
- NDP has a majority – 54 of 87 seats
- Wildrose is the official opposition
- Alberta has had 144 years of PC rule – NDP’s are new here in ruling in Alberta
- Voters should look at policies and ideologies, not just charisma and well-given speeches


QUESTION: I once heard a member of parliament say that by the time you vote, your opportunity to have any influence on government is long past. Is this true? If so, as constituents in this riding, what methods do we have to influence the decisions of government?
ANSWER:
- The best time to get involved is during the nomination process – you have a lot more say/influence then – consider the number of voters at that level compared to the number of voters involved at the provincial election – so, it is important to get involved in your party/constituency nomination so you can have input as to the leader of your party/riding
- You can get involved
o Example: Bill 6 – 32,000 people signed a petition
§ It was the largest rally at legislation in history
§ Because of that, amendments to Bill 6 were made
- It is very important that this group here tonight realizes that you can get involved and can make a difference


QUESTION: If one were to do a quick search of recent newspaper headlines, there seems to be no mention of the Wildrose party taking a stand on these current issues (bills 7 and 10). Why is that?
ANSWER:
- Bill 10 has been passed
o GSA’s can be set up for even 1 student and the school must provide a teacher liaison
o Was first discussed in 2014 and not passed but was then passed in 2015
§ Amendments were made
§ For parents to know about their children in school was taken out of the Human Rights Act
o Bill 7 was a reaction to Supreme Court ruling that the term “transgender” does not only refer to a sex change, but also just identifying with a gender
- We have to be careful as a society – if you change traditions too quickly, you can cause instability in a society
- Personal belief that everyone’s rights should be recognized
- When social issues arise, if Wildrose oppose the NDP, the media will take their message and show the Wildrose party as homophobes and bigots and their real message will not get out
- The Wildrose party believes that the fight is between the Education Minister and the school boards
o Wildrose wants to empower school boards
o They believe that if enough school boards stand up, they will be okay
- 52 of 61 school boards have sent letters saying they will not implement all of the guidelines
- Wildrose wants to empower the people to stand up


QUESTION: Recently there has been discussion in regards to “uniting the right”. Do you feel this is necessary and if so what will it take for this happen?
ANSWER:
- Personally is for uniting the right
- Within the next 3 yrs, we will be 60-80 billion dollars in debt
- The PC’s lost their compass
- We have had great PC’s
o Ralph Klein – believed in the Alberta Advantage
§ Low taxes, small government, let the people be successful, don’t get in their way
- Socialist government does not last long – the economy crumbles
- Right now, we are 24 billion dollars in debt
- Ed Stelmach – 1 yr, deficit of 9 billion dollars
- Budget will come out March 8 – will have 11-13 billion dollars more deficit
- Rachel Notley – same strategy as Obama, in that she sought out 4 groups of voters – female, young, unions, minority groups (immigrants & First nations)
- The oil sector has lost 170,000 jobs
- No jobs lost in the public sector
- We need to unite the right
- The PC party has been destroyed
- To unite the right, we need to get the conservative values and policies back



OPEN QUESTIONS:

QUESTION: In this constituency, how many school boards have stood against the guidelines?
ANSWER:
- Horizon, Westwind, Holy Spirit
- They sent back saying they’ll do some, but anti-bullying policies for ALL students


QUESTION: Has Minister Eggen responded to this pushback?
ANSWER:
- Bill 10 originally exempted Catholic, Christian, and charter schools – but that was amended
- The guidelines came from bill 10, bill 7, and the Supreme Court ruling – his interpretation of them – he is using a model from New Brunswick


QUESTION: question about parental rights
ANSWER:
- The government sees this as a one-fit-all solution – downtown Calgary and here in Southern Alberta need very different solutions
- We need people in the trenches to be involved in the law-making, not just bureaucrats


QUESTION: If I more from here to another school, I still want my kids to be safe
AN SWER:
- Parents need to keep their rights
- School boards are elected by their group of people – each school board has policies that suit their division
- The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but this doesn’t represent the rest of the people


QUESTION: question about the teaching of Sexual Education
ANSWER:
- They want to do away with the division of gender
- Eventual plan to discuss all types of sexual practices with the children with no option of pulling them out
- Bill 10 and Bill 7 were brought up because of Supreme Court rulings
- The UN says that parents’ rights trump the rights of minors




QUESTION: question about the bringing forth of Bill 10 and many citizens were not aware
ANSWER:
- You all need to get involved
- Push back in a respectful and classy way
- Show your opposition


QUESTION: If this goes forward, has the government considered the number of kids that could be pulled for homeschooling?
ANSWER:
- There is no precedent – thus no study on the impact


QUESTION: Other than writing letters, what is the best way to represent our voices?
ANSWER:
- Write letters
- Get involved in any board, ie. School board, chamber of commerce, councils, etc.
- The biggest problem in Alberta is apathy
o The silent majority is busy

Comments by MP Jim Hillyer:
- Bill 6 is one of the only times that public protest has resulted in amendments
- They made some changes because they saw the public outcry and saw it could hurt their policies
- The most effective things we can do:
o Write letters
o Sign petitions
o Cause our neighbors to care!!!
- Be careful to “throw our arrows at the right place”
o Make sure we’re not fighting against ourselves
o We will not all agree on all things all the time – but as long as we have the same values, policies, etc, we need to make it work (not exact wording, but general idea)


QUESTION: Can there be a referendum?
ANSWER:
- Most likely not, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try
- [After more asking of this question, Mr Hunter asked for a show of hands of how many people would like him to take this to his caucaus]
o Mr Hunter has promised that he will take this matter before his caucaus

Comments by Sara Baril
- Founder of P.R.O. Children Alberta website (Protect the Rights Of)
- The Facebook group she started, consisting of parents concerned over these issues has 17,000 plus members over 3 weeks
o It is a secret group, because the setting can’t be changed after 5000 and it grew so fast, but this is a blessing, because there was an open group based on Bill 6 and there was a lot of backlash
- Send letter to Eggen, and be sure to cc them to Mark Smith
- Sign petitions – online or hard copy
- Keep writing letters
- This has to be fought by the parents and grandparents
- Our job is to wake up the rest of Alberta
- It’s all about the parental rights
- Leave religion at the door – we have rights and they have rights – we all have to be respectful
o Focus on the real issues

Closing remarks by Grant Hunter
- We need to pay attention – the NDP’s want to change the fundamental fabric of our province – we need be aware of what’s coming
- What can we, as citizens, do?