The Saskatchewan Party government has introduced the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” in the provincial legislature, invoking the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution to empower parents as the primary decision-makers in their children’s education.
This legislative move protects the Moe government’s parental inclusion and consent policies announced in August 2023 — and is a direct response to a recent Court of King’s Bench approval of an injunction calling for a pause on the policy.
The notwithstanding clause is a provision that allows governments to override specific Charter rights for up to five years.
Parental rights are important says Saskatchewan Education Minister
“Parents should always be involved in important decisions involving their children,” Saskatchewan Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill said.
“The Parental Inclusion and Consent policy introduced in August and now this new legislation we are introducing today will ensure that continues to be the case.”
Notably, the bill asserts that if a student is under 16 years of age, parental consent must be obtained before teachers and school employees use the pupil’s new gender-swapped name or gender identity at school.
Scott Moe modelled legislation off New Brunswick
Moe’s legislation is modelled off of New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs’ changes to Policy 713, the sexual orientation and gender identity policy.
Moe said his parental rights policy has support from the majority of Saskatchewanians.
The policy ignited a firestorm among certain LGBT activist groups, including a lawsuit led by a federally-funded activist group against Moe’s government.
Majority believe parents have a right to know
A July poll by Angus Reid shows that 86% of those surveyed believe parents have the right to know when their child wants to be identified with different pronouns.
50% of parents believe parents have the right to know and must give consent to pronoun changes on their children.
Per the new Parents’ Bill of Rights, school principals must also inform parents at least two weeks in advance if sexual health content is going to be presented in the classroom, and indicate what subject matter will be covered.