Federal Ministers Accuse Alberta, Canada’s health and justice ministries are slamming Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s planned limits on transgender youngsters as targeting a vulnerable minority for political gain, signaling that they are considering how to respond.
Federal Ministers Accuse Alberta Premier Danielle Smith of Putting Trans Youth at Risk
“I am disturbed. “The decision made by Alberta puts children at risk,” federal Health Minister Mark Holland said Thursday. “Affirming gender, making sure that kids and families have the health care that they need on extremely sensitive issues, is so very important.”
“I believed we were at a point in our country where we were going beyond this. It’s really dangerous to engage in this type of behavior, which I believe is playing politics with children’s lives.
On Wednesday night, Smith released a seven-and-a-half-minute scripted social media video outlining her plans to advance a series of changes (opens in a new tab) around pronouns in schools and access to gender-affirming health care that go beyond what Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have implemented.
Smith’s government expressly seeks to:
Require parental notification and agreement for kids aged 15 and under who want to alter their names or pronouns at school, while parents of teens 16 and 17 will be informed but do not need to consent.
Ban “top and bottom” gender-affirming procedures for all Albertans ages 17 and under, and prohibit hormone therapy for gender reassignment for individuals aged 15 and under unless their treatment has already begun; When teachers intend to teach about LGBTQ2S+ topics such as gender and sexual identity, they must provide parental notification and an opt-in requirement.
Implement limits on transgender ladies’ involvement in sports.
According to the Canadian Paediatric Society (opens in a new tab), “processes and age cut-offs for funding gender-affirming surgeries vary by province/territory in Canada,” but in general, the kinds of surgical procedures Smith is seeking to restrict are rarely available to Canadians under the age of 18 (opens in a new tab) after extensive medical and psychological consultation.
When asked to react to new assisted dying legislation at a press conference on Thursday morning, Holland and Justice Minister Arif Virani both voiced dismay but did not commit to federal action.
“I’m a father… Parents frequently have these chats with their children. “They must be able to have those conversations with children,” Virani explained.
“I believe that targeting a small minority for political purposes in Alberta, as it appears the premier is doing, is unworthy of her office and may even demonize those youngsters. We’re not talking about their sexual development when we ban kids from school, playgrounds, and sports teams.”
The health minister stated that his first move would be to travel to Alberta to speak with his provincial colleague, Health Minister Adriana LaGrange, in person.
“I wish to discuss these concerns. I want to see if we can find a solution via conversation, to truly comprehend what this means and the misery that it will bring, so that we can make an offering,” Holland added. “So, that’s my priority is to try through communicating.”
Court challenge? Too Early: Virani
The federal ministers’ statements follow a storm of criticism overnight from their cabinet colleagues, as well as LGBTQ2S+ advocates, who have dubbed the planned package “the most restrictive”(opens in a new tab) and “dangerous”(opens in a new tab) anti-trans measures in the country.
While groups such as Egale Canada (opens in a new tab) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (opens in a new tab) have indicated a willingness to take legal action “to protect the rights and freedoms of trans and gender diverse people in the province,” the federal government has yet to take that step.
“That is an entirely speculative question,” Virani stated. “They have proclaimed what they intend to do, but they have not tabled anything, and there is no legislation. I’m not going to guess; there’s nothing to take to court.”
Advocate Calls it an ‘attack’ on Trans Rights
During her video, Smith stated that she accepts all transgender Albertans and wishes to end the persecution they encounter. However, after consulting with her United Conservative Party caucus, she has decided that, given the “often changing” emotions of Albertans aged 17 and younger, as premier, she is “not comfortable” allowing “prematurely encouraging or enabling children to alter their very biology or natural growth, no matter how well-intentioned.”
Smith has promised to seek out specialist medical practitioners to deliver gender-affirming surgery to adult Albertans in Alberta. She has also pledged to “strictly” enforce child protection rules in circumstances when transgender children are rejected or harmed by their parents.
“I understand how polarizing discussions about sexuality and gender can be, especially when children are involved. I would therefore request that, as we go through implementing these regulations, we as adults in this province do everything we can to depoliticize the issue and focus on the well-being of the children involved,” Smith said. The premier is due to address the media in Alberta on Thursday afternoon.
Fae Johnstone, executive director of the Society of Queer Momentum, described Smith’s proposal as “an egregious assault on the rights and freedoms of vulnerable young people and their families.”
“This is a government interfering ideologically, in the provision of evidence-based health care, and stopping families from helping their kids access life-saving services that those young people need and deserve.”
In an interview with CTV News Channel, Johnstone warned that if enacted, Smith’s package of policies might drive trans and gender-diverse pupils back into the closet or push them to come out before they know they’ll be supported at home.
“We recognize that health interventions are not an option for every child, but they are necessary for some and it is irresponsible for a government to get between that young person, their family, and their provider.”
NDP reacts; Conservatives have yet to
On Thursday afternoon, Alberta’s Official Opposition Leader Rachel Notley held a press conference in Ottawa with federal NDP MPs to reply to Smith’s “policy and guidelines aimed at dismantling the human rights of transgender Albertans.”
“Smith’s new policy represents government interference in what should be a collaborative and private decision between parents, their child, and their doctor,” Notley stated. She went on to say that the action is “designed to further divide those who have been subjected to misinformation and conspiracy theories.”
Last September, at the federal Conservative convention in Quebec City, delegates voted to include (opens in a new tab) a pair of policies in the party’s playbook that would limit gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth and oppose trans women’s inclusion in women’s spaces, such as sports teams and bathrooms.
Poilievre has not stated whether these are policies he will campaign on or would be implemented by a future federal Conservative government.