By Medicine Hat News Opinon on June 5, 2018.
Plain and simple: It’s the job of the official opposition to challenge the government in power. To ask questions, to demand reasoning behind decisions, to speak up for the wide range of constituents they represent.
Which is why all 25 MLAs for the United Conservative Party — including leader Jason Kenney — refusing to participate in the debate and skipping out on the vote for Bill 9, amounts to irresponsible truancy. Their actions would seem to be unprecedented in Alberta’s history.
There is a good argument for Bill 9. The legislation creates a larger “no-harassment zone” around health-care facilities that provide abortions. It’s to address serious concerns that employees and patients have about threats, intimidation and invasion of privacy by certain anti-abortion protesters.
Yes, the UCP doesn’t have a platform quite yet when it comes to reproductive health-care topics such as abortion. But a lack of a platform hasn’t stopped them from tackling other legislation and policy that the NDP have brought forward.
And if you want to form a government for some 4.32 million people, then you darn well better be able to multi-task to address the multitude of issues they face — not just the big shiny fancy ones like the economy.
Refusing to debate and vote does a disservice to the abundant number of social conservatives who are a part of this province —and whom the UCP say they represent in their big tent party. It means failing to bring forward concerns about the bill’s possible impact on fundamental rights to freedom of speech and protest.
It does a disservice to the many Albertans which UCP MLAs represent who are in favour of legislation like Bill 9, and want their MLA to give positive and constructive feedback.
Platform or not — it’s fully possible for UCP MLAs to step forward to have a thoughtful, good-faith debate with criticism where warranted on this legislation.
That the UCP isn’t willing to do so is an abysmal abdication of their responsibility towards the people of Alberta.
(Peggy Revell is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)
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