Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he would use a Constitutional protection – the notwithstanding clause – to ensure that students wanting to change their gender or pronouns at school must have parental permission to do so.
The notwithstanding clause – proposed by former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to broaden support for the new Canadian Constitution repatriated from the United Kingdom – allows a province to opt out of or override any decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that affects the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Moe is introducing legislation to protect parental rights in his province against what many see as the intrusion of schools into the lives of students in the name of gender ideology.
Under the new policy, schools in Saskatchewan must obtain parental consent before using the preferred name or pronouns of students who are under 16 years of age.
The rule is part of the province's Parental Inclusion and Consent Policies announced by Education Minister Dustin Duncan.
That legislation is already the object of a court challenge from the UR Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity at the University of Regina.
At a recent news conference, Moe told reporters that he was quite willing to use a variety of "tools" to ensure that any legislation is not overturned by the courts.
When asked if that meant he was prepared to use the notwithstanding clause, Moe said Wednesday, "If necessary, that would be one of the tools that would be under consideration — yes."
"The notwithstanding clause is present for a reason — so that duly elected governments can represent their constituents when necessary."
Although the clause was rarely invoked for decades except by Quebec to institute language laws, Ontario has threatened to use the Constitutional device in recent years.
Moe said the use of the notwithstanding clause was not the first option he would consider in preserving parental rights legislation – especially since there has not yet been a successful court challenge to it.
"We most certainly are looking at all the tools that we have available, understanding that the policy is in place and effective today and so it would be premature to say that we are using this tool or that tool," he said Wednesday.
"But you can have the assurance that the government will utilize any and all tools available, up to and including the notwithstanding clause, should it be necessary to ensure this policy is in place for the foreseeable future in Saskatchewan."
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