Comparing Smith’s policy to court judgements, she got it right

John Carpay – Western Standard

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has announced new policies to protect children and teenagers from making irreversible and life-altering decisions in the absence of parental notification and parental consent.


This is consistent with the Charter section 7 right to “life, liberty and security of the person,” which recognizes that children’s rights are protected through the informed involvement of their parents and that safeguards the right and ability of parents (and legal guardians) to love, guide and protect their children. Therefore, keeping parents in the dark about what is happening with their own children at school is contrary to the Charter.

Parents have a moral duty and a legal duty to care for their children. Therefore, parents need to know all about what is going on with their children at school. If parents are not properly informed about what their children are doing or learning in school, how can parents possibly meet this duty that they owe?

As the Supreme Court of Canada explained in B.(R.) v. Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto: “In recent years, courts have expressed some reluctance to interfere with parental rights and state intervention has been tolerated only when necessity was demonstrated. This only serves to confirm that the parental interest in bringing up, nurturing and caring for a child, including medical care and moral upbringing, is an individual interest of fundamental importance to our society.”

Canada’s federal and provincial laws have long recognized that children are not adults. Children lack the necessary maturity to vote, get married, join the military, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, consume cannabis, or even to get a tattoo. The permission of parents is required for minors to travel abroad and even for children to take part in an organized school field trip to a park, zoo or science centre.

Alberta’s new prohibition on surgically removing healthy body parts from teenagers under the age of 18 is consistent with these other laws. Only adults should be able to choose permanent infertility and a lifetime of dependency on opposite-sex hormones; children are simply too young to make these life-altering and irreversible choices.

A very small number of parents are abusive, hence the need for child protection services and for the enforcement of laws that prohibit abuse. There are many laws, regulations, agencies and professional obligations that exist to protect children from real harm. For example, if a teacher had reason to believe that disclosing certain information to parents would lead to real harm, they have a professional obligation to report this to authorities.

Opponents of parental notification and parental consent base their advocacy on the premise that many or most parents are dangerous and abusive.

This is simply not the case.

With very few exceptions, the love parents have for their own children far exceeds whatever love or concern political activists might have for other people’s children. Parents need to be properly informed if they are to fulfil their responsibilities to love, guide and protect their children.

Parental consent should be required when children under 16 wish to embark on a “social transition” of using opposite-sex name and pronouns at school, or using opposite-sex bathrooms and changing rooms, or joining an opposite-sex sports team. Parental consent should also be legally required for children to take puberty blockers, which risk rendering teenagers permanently infertile upon reaching adulthood.

When schools expose children to information about gender identity, sexual orientation or other aspects of human sexuality, parents must be able to determine what information is appropriate for each of their children.

A one-size-fits-all approach disregards the unique needs of each child, and disregards the importance of exposing children only to what is age-appropriate.

Therefore, requiring parental consent by way of a deliberate “opt in” policy makes it possible for parents to educate and protect their children as parents deem best. It is high time for the repeal of current “opt out” policies that result in too many children being taught — or exposed to — ideology and sexual content that is not age-appropriate or that is otherwise contrary to the sexual education parents want their own children to receive.

In like fashion, it is both appropriate and necessary for Alberta’s Ministry of Education to review and control the sexual and ideological content of what outside “third parties” may wish to impress upon children at school.

While Alberta’s new policies are consistent with the Charter, it is possible that they could be invalidated by an ideologically motivated court which suddenly discovers a new “right” for children to make irreversible and life-altering decisions without the knowledge or consent of parents.

Should this occur, Charter section 33 allows elected representatives to opt out of such a court ruling, as the Saskatchewan government recently did.

John Carpay, B.A., LL.B. is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (

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