Protestors lined the pavement outside the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre on Thursday to voice their concerns about a new law that will prevent children under 16 from changing their name or pronouns at school without receiving parental consent.
With Premier Scott Moe in attendance for the 2023 Premier’s Dinner, protestors marched outside and carried signs reading “Protect Trans Kids” and “Hate has no Home here”. There were also chats calling for Moe’s resignation.
In a post on Facebook, protest organizer Troy Parenteau wrote that he was pleased with the turnout.
“We live in a loving and diverse city, one that cares, that shows up, and gives,” Parenteau wrote. “Tonight we let the deep pockets of the Sask. Party know that taking away the rights of youth will not happen in silence.”
The protest was the latest in a series held across Saskatchewan aimed at reversing the government’s policy. On Friday, the legislature voted 40-12 in favour for Bill 137, also called the Parents’ Bill of Rights.
The bill pre-emptively uses the notwithstanding clause after a Regina judge granted an injunction to halt the policy.
Moe spoke with reporters prior to the dinner on Thursday, and remained adamant that Saskatchewan residents supported the government’s policy. He said parents deserve to be notified if there are significant decisions or challenges their child might be going through.
“This has largely been in practice across the province in our schools, classrooms and school divisions for many years and decades now,” Moe told reporters. “We’re formalizing that…. We had said from the beginning that if that policy was ever found to not be active that we would utilize the tools that the government has to ensure that it is active and that’s what you’ve seen play out this week with the introduction of legislation and ultimately the passing of that legislation.”
Bill 137 passed after 40 hours of debate. The Premier also recalled MLAs for an emergency sitting to get the bill through the legislature.
NDP opposition leader Carla Beck said the government’s actions shows they aren’t concerned about issues like cost of living, which affect all Saskatchewan residents.
“The fact that Scott Moe declared the first emergency sitting in 24 years to essentially police what kids call each other on the playground says a whole lot about his priorities,” Beck said in a press release. “I think it’s mind-boggling that the Premier would prioritize this over fixing our hospitals or addressing the rising cost of gas and groceries. Governments of all stripes should focus on getting the basics right.”
–with files from Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald, and Alec Salloum/Regina Leader-Post