By talking like a conservative, Jason Kenney goes where Patrick Brown fears to tread

 Chris Selleyby  Chris Selley

If the Liberals introduced an Ontario version of Bill 24, the only thing I can imagine Brown doing is supporting it and begging his MPPs to keep shtum and do likewise

There is some consternation that Canada’s newly United Conservative Party opposes Bill 24, the NDP government legislation that would bar schools from informing parents whether or not their children are participating in extracurricular gay-straight alliance (GSA) clubs. Certainly the party’s opposition might be unwise: the timing of the bill was an explicit attempt to flush out the intolerant elements in the reformed conservative coalition that so bedevilled the Wildrose Party. It was an obvious trap, as Jen Gerson argued here recently, and the UCP either fell into it or felt confident engaging the bill on its merits.

The latter seems at least plausible to me. This is ostensibly a conservative party, with conservative politicians answering to a conservative base. The proposition here is to ban schools from telling parents what their kids are doing at school. That’s going to discomfort many conservatives regardless of whether the word “gay” enters the equation.

Of course there is a good case to be made for this proposed measure as a means of preventing kids from being outed to potentially abusive parents. But that doesn’t discredit any unease about the gag order within the UCP. Conservatives tend to trust parents more and government institutions less, and liberals vice versa. The Supreme Court has yet to declare a winner. You’re allowed to disagree. This legislation concerns a very specific circumstance — it would be tough to argue it’s the thin edge of any wedge — but if a conservative party can’t at least voice some qualms about parents’ right to know, then it’s not being true to its base.

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