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.


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


Medicine Hat News: Farmworkers need help in Bill 6 transition period

The Alberta government has made and continues to make efforts to work with farm and ranch owners to adopt Bill 6. However, its implementation continues to be stalled by the legacy of a century of “wild west” attitudes, and no guarantee of safe work standards or compensation for injury.

Read More


Jill Clayton’s re-appointment should prompt more action on transparency

Today Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann praised the recent re-appointment of Jill Clayton as Information and Privacy Commissioner. The Order in Council was issued on January 31st, appointing Ms. Clayton for a term lasting to 2022.

“As Commissioner, Ms. Clayton has been a champion of accountability and strong voice for public access to information,” said Swann. “I am glad to see the office remaining under her capable direction.”

With many government departments much delayed in their obligations under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP), Ms. Clayton has a big job ahead of her.

The Ministry of Justice, despite being specifically singled out by Ms. Clayton in the past, routinely fails to meet legally mandated deadlines. An example of this can be found in its reply to a recent Liberal FOIP request, in which they warned that, “due to a high volume of requests at this office,” their response time may exceed the 30 day requirement.

Swann is calling on the government to use Jill Clayton’s reappointment to reaffirm its commitment to openness and transparency. In particular, Service Alberta should restart the practice of posting FOIP statistics publicly, which it discontinued in 2013.

“I look forward to seeing the changes Ms. Clayton will effect – not only in the Ministry of Justice, but in the Government of Alberta as a whole,” said Swann.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann responds to CFIB’s Bill 6 Paperweight Award

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann argues the protections provided by Bill 6 outweigh the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s criticisms.

The CFIB recently awarded the bill a Paperweight Award for “outrageous regulatory headaches for small businesses,” arguing that the regulations were not written with the realities of farming in mind.

Swann replies that the protections provided to employers and workers by Bill 6 are paramount, and invites the CFIB to help ensure the bill’s smooth and effective implementation.

“Bill 6 benefits farmers as well as farm workers,” said Swann. “Workers’ Compensation offers no-fault coverage to employers, protecting them from liability in case of an accident. More importantly, Bill 6 gives basic legal protections to farm workers that have been lacking for almost a century.”

The CFIB sits on a technical working group consulting on the bill’s regulatory framework. Swann expects the organization to work to reduce difficulties for farmers, but to ultimately ensure workers continue to receive these vital protections.

“I encourage the CFIB to use its position on the government’s Technical Working Group to improve Bill 6’s implementation, creating a framework accessible to farmers and ranchers while still preserving the fundamental rights of their workers,” Swann concluded.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann calls for review of Alberta Human Rights Act

Calgary, AB (January 9, 2017):

In response to the recent Court of Queen’s Bench ruling adding age as a prohibited ground of discrimination, Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann called today for a review of the Alberta Human Rights Act.

“Friday’s ruling will have immediate benefits to a long-overlooked group of Albertans,” said Swann. “However, revisiting the Act to implement the ruling gives us an opportunity to extend leading edge human rights protections to further categories such as pregnancy, social condition, political belief and Aboriginal heritage.

“This government has so far taken a piecemeal approach to the Human Rights Act, which has not been substantially amended since 1996,” Swann continued. “Since that time, our understanding of human rights has evolved to include categories that would never have been considered twenty years ago. Simply put, there is clearly room to modernize and improve the Act, and now we have an excellent chance to do so.

“We have a duty to the vulnerable segments of our population to protect their fundamental human rights from abuse,” Swann concluded. “That protection should start with the Alberta Human Rights Act.”