⚖️ Parental consent

Alberta soft-launches rules for trans children and athletes. Plus New Brunswick's drafting mistake heads to court, BC Human Rights Commission looks at police use of force, Nova Scotia tidies its statute books, and Mike Holmes gets sued over shoddy builds.

Good morning. Just like that, we’ve leapt into 2024’s extra-long February.

— Dylan Gibbs

TODAY'S DOCKET

4 min read

  • Alberta soft-launches its transgender policies

  • New Brunswick asks for help with drafting mistake

  • BC Human Rights Commission digs into police use of force

  • Nova Scotia does some early spring statute cleaning

  • And Mike Holmes gets sued over shoddy builds

HUMAN RIGHTS

Alberta debut: parental rights and more

Transgender flag flies at half mast in front of a school

In a social media video, Premier Danielle Smith shared the details of the “parental rights” policy she teased over the weekend. Alberta is implementing the strictest policies on transgender issues that Canada has seen to date.

Gender identity in schools: Similar to the policies adopted in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, schools will need parental consent before they can refer to a student under the age of 16 by a different name or different pronouns. Alberta is going a step further by also requiring schools to notify the parents of 16 and 17-year-olds — although their consent won’t be a dealbreaker.

From the sounds of it, Alberta also won’t be implementing the same limits on parental disclosure that exist in other jurisdictions. While New Brunswick and Saskatchewan prioritize safety planning over immediate parental notification in situations that could harm the student, Smith’s comments suggest a more reactionary approach:

[I]n the handful of rare situations where one or both of the parents reject or become abusive to a child who identifies as transgender, we have child protection laws that will be strictly enforced.

Danielle Smith, via X

Consent-based curriculum: Education about sexuality is also moving to an opt-in system. Any formal instruction about gender identity, sexual orientation, or human sexuality will require parental consent on a lesson-by-lesson basis.

Beyond the classroom: Unlike the Saskatchewan and New Brunswick policies, Alberta’s new rules aren’t limited to schools. The province is also prohibiting access to transition-related healthcare and separating transgender women from biological females in the sporting context.

  • Children under 16 won’t be able to access puberty blockers or hormone therapy — unless they’ve already started treatment. Those aged 17–18 have more latitude, but they’ll need parental consent.

  • Transition-related surgeries will be prohibited for anyone under the age of 18.

  • The government is working with sports organizations to create female-only sports divisions. Transgender women will need to compete in co-ed or gender-neutral divisions.

How are people reacting? While Alberta’s approach is not without supporters, others are calling it draconian. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, you can expect an inevitable legal challenge once the proposed policies become law. Egale, one of the groups challenging Saskatchewan’s gender identity legislation, already announced its plans to take Alberta to court.

HEARSAY ROUNDUP

Canadiana

✌️ After getting a taste of pseudo-law, former BC lawyer Naomi Arbabi has officially given up her law license.

👶 The New Brunswick government is headed to the Court of Appeal to sort out the drafting mistake that left it without child protection and adoption legislation for 43 days. Through a reference case, the province wants the Court to decide whether custody orders that courts issued during those 43 days are valid.

🏘️ Alberta is offering a new grant to promote community-based justice programs as an alternative to the court system. Eligible organizations can get anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000.

🧐 BC’s human rights commissioner is holding an inquiry on police use of force against marginalized groups.

📚 Nova Scotia is in the final stages of revising its entire statute book — the first consolidation in the province since 1989. It took six-and-a-half years to draft the revisions, which renumber sections, update statute names, and incorporate gender-neutral language. Just when the 90’s grads thought they had the section numbers memorized …

🏚️ Canadian homebuilding celebrity Mike Holmes is getting sued for his connection to homes that later had to be torn down. The lawsuit alleges Holmes gave his authoritative seal of approval to the builds. The Holmes Group says the buyers should have paid for an upgraded package with an inspection.

🤐 A Hamilton lawyer who posted about the Israel-Hamas war is now facing a $250,000 defamation claim.

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