Discrimination, bigotry, conscience rights dominate election forum

Questions about discrimination, bigotry and hate were put to Red Deer provincial candidates — particularly Wildrose Party members — at an election forum that attracted about 375 people on Tuesday night.

Questions about discrimination, bigotry and hate were put to Red Deer provincial candidates — particularly Wildrose Party members — at an election forum that attracted about 375 people on Tuesday night.

Last year the Wildrose Party said it would ensure conscience rights for health professionals and marriage commissioners, taken to mean they would not have to perform abortions or solemnize marriages involving gay or lesbian couples.

Red Deer North Wildrose Party candidate Randy Weins said his party has made it known it will not legislate on contentious social issues.

Red Deer South Wildrose Party candidate Nathan Stephan wanted to know when conscience rights became something that is bad.

“We need to understand what conscience rights are. This is a right, guarantee, in our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is not a bad thing. This means that you have the ability to think what you want,” said Stephan at the forum hosted by Red Deer Chamber of Commerce at the Harvest Centre at Westerner Park.

“That’s the right of conscience. But what we need to recognize is we have other laws to protect against discrimination and this, in our province, is the Alberta Human Rights Act.”

Red Deer South NDP candidate Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer challenged Wildrose’s commitment.

“If I remember correctly it was your leader who said that she would abolish the Human Rights Commission,” said Watkinson-Zimmer about Wildrose leader Danielle Smith.

An audience member at the forum spoke of how a friend in Lacombe was nearly beaten to death three years ago when he was 17 and suspected of being gay. She wanted to know how Wildrose could defend its Edmonton candidate Allan Hunsperger who criticized public schools in Edmonton for accepting students for who they are and warned that gays will burn in hell.

Red Deer South Alberta Party candidate Serge Gingras said Wildrose is perpetuating a stigma that leads to bullying and harassment and sometimes depression and suicide.

“It’s disturbing that this kind of thing still happens to gays. I’m a member of the gay community. I’ve heard story, after story, after story, and I work with young gays and lesbians on campus,” said Gingras, an instructor at Red Deer College.

Red Deer North Progressive Conservative incumbent Mary Anne Jablonski said it’s horrible that kind of violence still happens, but government cannot legislate morality and should stay out of the bedrooms of Canadians.

“Morality has to come from the parents and it has to come from society and we’ve got a lot of work to do if that (violence) is still happening,” Jablonski said.

Jablonski also attacked the Wildrose plan to freeze health infrastructure projects, that she said included the Central Alberta Cancer Centre under construction in Red Deer.

“I don’t know where you got that information from, but it’s not true,” said Weins about Red Deer’s cancer centre.

“Randy, you need to read the news releases from your own leader,” Jablonski said.

Stephan said Wildrose isn’t talking about the need to stop building health infrastructure, but rather recognizing the need to work on building health care staff.

“We actually don’t have the doctors and nurses to staff the facilities. We’re putting money into facilities that can’t be staffed,” Stephan said.

Red Deer South Progressive Conservative incumbent Cal Dallas said with the budget cuts Wildrose budget has planned, that won’t be happening.

“You won’t be doing any hiring of any nurses, of any doctors, of any teachers of any kind. You will be going in opposite direction.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Red Deer massage therapist not guilty of sexual assault

Judge said he had reasonable doubt and must acquit

Ten dead, 15 injured in van incident authorities call an horrific attack

TORONTO — The death toll rose to at least 10 late Monday… Continue reading

Watch: Flood watch remains for Waskasoo Creek

Red Deer crews monitoring creek

Warm temperatures this week for Red Deer

23 C forecast for Saturday

Feds to post deficits $8B bigger than expected over next two years: PBO report

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is on track to run deficits nearly… Continue reading

WATCH: Central Alberta dancers take over Red Deer College with their moves

Danceworks Central Alberta Dance Festival is now in its 38th year

Ten dead, 15 injured in van incident authorities call an horrific attack

TORONTO — The death toll rose to at least 10 late Monday… Continue reading

Andersen leads Maple Leafs in win over Bruins to force Game 7

Maple Leafs 3 Bruins 1 (Best of seven game series tied at… Continue reading

As Osoyoos Indian Band flourishes, so too does Okanagan’s wine tourism

Indigenous practices have driven growth of South Okanagan’s wine history and agricultural influence

Anti-straw movement should consider people with disabilities, advocates say

TORONTO — Some Canadians who rely on plastic straws are calling on… Continue reading

Doctors must get better at diagnosing patients with darker skin: Dermatologists

TORONTO — About a month ago, a frustrated Emma Schmidt turned to… Continue reading

Loblaw Companies tax court trial over Barbadian banking subsidiary starts

TORONTO — A tax court trial involving Loblaw Companies Ltd. and allegations… Continue reading

As trial winds down, DA downplays Cosby travel records

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Prosecutors highlighted gaps in Bill Cosby’s travel records on… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month