David Swann statement on Ministerial Order to allow Gay-Straight Alliances

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement in response to the Ministerial Order directing two schools to allow gay-straight alliances (GSAs):

“I thank the Minister of Education for his decision to enforce the law permitting gay-straight alliances to be established in all schools where students request them.

“However, I admonish him for not having taken a firmer stance from the beginning on this matter. By allowing a situation of open defiance to continue for as long as it had, he empowered a willful act of discrimination. This is something that he should not and must not permit.

“The incident further highlights the fact that many school board LGBTQ policies simply do not make the grade – the Minister even called them ‘clunky’. In some cases, students are even discouraged from using the terms LGBTQ or GSA. This goes against both the spirit and the letter of the law.

“One way to ensure transparency and accountability in this matter is to require all school boards, including private schools, to make their GSA policies publicly accessible. That way, parents, students, and the community can review them.

“The investigation that led to the Ministerial Order also raised concerns about a school’s ability to “out” LGBTQ students by notifying parents if students attend GSAs. If true, this is deeply troubling.

“Therefore, I call on the Minister to do everything in his power to protect these vulnerable students, and ensure their privacy and confidentiality is explicitly safeguarded.

“Finally, let us not forget that GSAs save lives. While students have the legal right to form GSAs, more needs to be done to remove all barriers to establishing these safe and inclusive student-led initiatives.”

Video of David Swann questioning Minister Eggen on Gay-Straight Alliances on March 14th can be found here.


CBC: U of A students want to ensure marijuana taxes don’t go up in smoke

“Wild and Liberal leader Dr. David Swann, who co-chaired Alberta’s mental health review, are throwing their support behind the campaign.

“Targeting a tax like a marijuana tax would not be a precedent for this government,” Swann said. “We already target the carbon tax for specific environmental initiatives.””

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Amendment ensures protections for survivors of sexual and domestic violence

Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann seeks to amend Bill 2 to ensure its protections apply to a broader category of survivors.

“I support the intent of this bill, but I am concerned that its protections may not be afforded to all survivors due to a technicality,” says Swann.

Bill 2, An Act to Remove Barriers for Survivors of Sexual and Domestic Violence, currently covers survivors who were either a minor, in an intimate relationship with or were dependent on the perpetrator at the time that the sexual misconduct or non-sexual assault occurred.

However, a relationship of dependency might not be an accurate description of incidences where the survivor and perpetrator(s) are co-workers with the same level of seniority, such as in a recent high-profile case of a female police officer who resigned from the Calgary Police Service after enduring years of harassment from her colleagues.

Likewise, it is unclear if dependency applies to harassment or exploitation of an adult student by a university professor or post-secondary instructor.

The bill cannot be amended to include references to co-workers since that would involve altering legislation not currently under consideration. Consequently, Swann proposes reducing the bill’s ambiguity by inserting an additional category of protection:

“the person who committed the misconduct was in a position of trust or authority in relation to the person with the claim,”

“It’s unfortunate that specific mention of co-workers and instructors was left out of the original proposal. Perhaps this is something the NDP can change in the future.” says Swann.

“In the meantime, I call on my colleagues to support my amendment to ensure more survivors are included under these important protections.”

Click here to view Dr. Swann’s amendment


Banning paid donations will not ensure a safer, more sustainable plasma supply

Edmonton, AB (March 21, 2017): Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann will not support Bill 3, the Voluntary Blood Donations Act, over concerns that banning paid donation will not ensure a safer or more sustainable supply of plasma.

“Alberta currently imports 80 per cent of its plasma products from clinics in the United States which pay donors,” says Swann. “There is absolutely no way for the government to replace this capacity with volunteer donors.

“Growing our domestic plasma supply is a critical goal. Systems allowing for paid plasma donations have had success in other jurisdictions without any of the adverse effects that the NDP are raising as justification for this bill.”

Paid plasma donations are regulated by Health Canada regulations and have been deemed to be every bit as safe as those that come from unpaid donors.

Swann is also concerned about the additional burden Bill 3 might put on the public health care system.

“Health care is already the largest line item in the provincial budget. The government cannot hope to ‘bend the cost curve’ by adding more public services that could be provided through private sector partnerships,” says Swann. “We saw this same approach with private laundry services.

“Canada deserves a safe, sustainable supply of plasma. I am not convinced Bill 3 helps us get there. For those reasons, I cannot support it.”


Edmonton Journal: Opposition fears credit rating downgrade in wake of red-ink budget

“Acting Liberal leader David Swann said he generally agrees with the government’s reasoning on why it has to run deficits, but he wants to see a clear plan on how to get back to balance. That’s something the ratings agency will also be looking for, he said.

“There’s no question we’re going to see more questions about our spending as it’s going up and up with no plan to reduce it,” said Swann.”

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Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann responds to Budget 2017

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement in response to Budget 2017:
“I would like to applaud the government on investing in public services and infrastructure, eliminating school fees, and committing to address climate change and protect the environmental. These are priorities that Alberta Liberals share.

“However, like many Albertans, I am concerned about the increasing deficits and debt our province is accumulating as a result of government borrowing for operational costs. This budget sees the NDP government borrowing $15.2 billion for operating costs this year – the beginning of a steady upward trajectory towards $30 billion in 2019-2020. In the past, we have compared this approach to paying the mortgage with a credit card or selling the family farm to pay the monthly bills. It simply does not make financial sense.

“Of course, anything is possible when you’re paying by credit, but this is not sustainable in the long-term. In this budget, as with every previous budget since this government took power, we see more spending with no plan to pay it back. Alberta’s total liabilities now sit at $85.7 billion, and higher interest rates associated with further credit rating downgrades will make this task even more difficult. I have no confidence that the NDP approach will do anything but add to the $1.4 billion in debt servicing costs Albertans are already paying.

“Fairness to future generations is a Liberal value. The NDP legacy of debt is anything but fair. We need to have an adult conversation about spending and revenue. The government cannot continue to spend at this rate while relying on volatile resource revenue.

“We would like to see the government make strategic decisions and targeted investments in areas that will reduce costs in the long run. Getting ahead of the cost curve is preferable to bending it.

“This is particularly the case for our province’s health care system. We need massive investments in home care, disease and injury prevention, wellness and mental health. This will not only save money and lower wait times by reducing the strain on the acute care system, but it will also improve quality of care and patient outcomes.

“Alberta’s legal system also needs an injection of cash to remove barriers and improve access to justice. Alberta Liberals have championed increasing funding to Legal Aid Alberta. Chronic underfunding has led to unnecessary backlogs, delays, and slower trial process when people try to self-represent. The government has committed some money to this program, but not enough to bring it out of its $10-million deficit.

“Alberta Liberals also support expanding the Drug Treatment Court program, which received no mention in this budget. The program badly underfunded for the valuable results it delivers in terms of keeping addicts out of prison and getting them back on the road to recovery.

“The Metta Clinic, which is the only specialized clinic for transgender youth, only receives enough funding to operate for half a day per month. This is totally unacceptable. We urge the government to increase funding so that these vulnerable youth can get the services they so desperately need.

“Finally, we need a savings plan. Over the last number of years, we have seen our trust and contingency funds depleted at an alarming rate – the contingency account will be gone by this time next year. We need to reverse this trend today and start saving for tomorrow.

“Overall, Alberta Liberals support the government’s attempt at protecting public goods and services, but we are calling on the NDP to show more fiscal restraint, make better investments and savings, and produce a plan to diversify our revenue and pay down the debt.”


NAIT Board of Governors appointment echoes Tory patronage

Ray Martin’s appointment as Chair of the Board of Governors of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) reeks of NDP political patronage.

“This does not pass the smell test,” says Swann. “The NDP are clearly continuing the Tory legacy of posting party insiders to important public positions.”

The Order in Council, approved on March 7th, appoints Ray Martin as a member and designates him as chair of the Board of Governors of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, for a term to expire on March 6, 2020.

Alberta Liberals have been staunch advocates of the creation of an independent appointments commission that would ensure these appointments are based solely on merit and not personal or political connections.

“The NDP has only made symbolic changes to the appointments process, which amounts to advertising the position on the government’s job board,” says Swann, “It still lacks the necessary independence and transparency that only an arms-length organization would afford.”

Swann is calling on the government to put an immediate stop to political patronage by establishing an independent commission to oversee the appointments process.


Swann questions government on fentanyl-related crime

In Question Period today, Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann questioned the NDP government about recently-obtained statistics from the Calgary Police Service (CPS).

Swann received a briefing note from the CPS indicating a steady increase in fentanyl-related calls to police, charges being laid, and property crimes attributed to addictions.

“A briefing note I obtained from the Calgary Police Service shows the further impact fentanyl is having on policing resources and in the community. In 2016, CPS responded to 223 overdose calls, resulting in 111 fentanyl-related charges. These numbers have risen dramatically over the last 5 years. There has also been a corresponding spike in property crime driven by addiction. If the government has all the resources it needs, why do these numbers keep going up?”

Swann also questioned the government on the 10 Albertans who died while in police custody in 2016. Two of their deaths have been confirmed to be the result of overdoses, and six more cases remain pending investigation.

Finally, Swann argued that the pervasive nature of the opioid crisis requires leadership and a comprehensive, cross-jurisdictional plan, one that would have to be provided in a state of emergency. He questioned when the government would make such a plan available to the public.

CPS Briefing Note prepared for Dr. David Swann (Redacted)
Letter of reply from Kathleen Ganley Minister of Justice Re reports concerning death due to overdoses (Feb 02 2017)