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The Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General of Saskatchewan and Alberta have joined forces to protect parental consent when it comes to pronoun use by children at schools. 

The pair of ministers issued a joint statement on Tuesday, indicating Alberta’s intent to intervene in the Parents’ Bill of Rightscase before the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

“Saskatchewan and Alberta agree that the key figures in children’s lives are their parents, and our provinces are both committed to supporting families and children so that they can work through unique needs together,” said the Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Alberta, Mickey Amery, and his counterpart in Saskatchewan, Bronwyn Eyre in their statement.

“Notifying parents and requiring their consent before a child’s name or pronouns can be changed in schools, and before classroom discussions about gender identity and other sensitive subjects occur, ensures that the parent-child relationship is respected and paramount,” added the joint statement.

True North previously covered the enactment of Saskatchewan’s parental rights legislation, which requires that parents be notified when children under the age of 16 choose to go by a different pronoun at school. The bill invoked the notwithstanding clause in response to legal challenges from LGBTQ advocacy organizations, which contested the law’s compatibility with Charter rights.

The Government of Saskatchewan issued a press release after passing the Parent’s Bill of Rights.

“The notwithstanding clause is part of the Constitution of Canada and allows federal and provincial governments to enact legislation that operates notwithstanding certain provisions of the Charter,” read the release.

The University of Regina Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity filed an action against the Government of Saskatchewan in August 2023 for the formerly known policy, “Use of Preferred First Name and Pronouns by Students.” 

UR Pride argued that Saskatchewan’s policy infringed on sections 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

Justice Michael Megaw of the Court of King’s Bench initially granted the UR Pride public interest standing and halted the policy’s implementation until a final judgment on the constitutional debate is reached.

The case between UR Pride Centre and the Saskatchewan government saw a major shift due to invocation of the notwithstanding clause, altering the original policy UR Pride was challenging. 

UR Pride sought to update its legal challenge to reflect these changes and introduce a claim under section 12 of the Charter. Despite the government’s argument that the court lacked jurisdiction and that the case was moot because of the new law and the notwithstanding clause, Megaw decided on February 16 that the court still had the authority to hear the case. 

Megaw allowed UR Pride’s amendments and postponed decisions on mootness and jurisdiction to a later stage.

“However, I do this without prejudice to the Government of Saskatchewan’s ability to raise this issue again should the circumstances so dictate,” wrote Megaw.

Alberta has written to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, indicating the province’s intent to intervene in Saskatchewan’s appeal of the UR Pride decision.

The ministers said that Alberta intends to argue that the application of section 33 of the Charter should have barred the Saskatchewan Court of King’s Bench from reviewing the constitutional validity of the Parent’s Bill of Rights.

“This case has the potential to impact not only parental rights across Canada, but also the application of the Parliamentary Supremacy Clause, which has been an integral piece of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution of Canada since 1982,” concluded the joint statement. True North previously reported that Danielle Smith banned gender reassignment surgery for minors. This announcement aligned with the trend set by provincial premiers Scott Moe and Blaine Higgs, who had already taken significant steps to confront gender ideology.