Higgs faces growing dissent from cabinet on LGBTQ policy review
Premier Blaine Higgs is facing a growing wave of dissent from several of his cabinet ministers over the review of the province's policy on LGBTQ students at school.
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Jeff Carr is the latest Progressive Conservative to question the rethink of Policy 713, which sets minimum standards for creating safe, inclusive spaces in the education system.
"There are ways to strengthen policies and that's what governments should be here for, to strengthen policies and not take away the rights of marginalized individuals, to not have them live in fear," said Carr, who was sometimes emotional about the issue during a scrum with reporters on Thursday.
Local Government Minister Daniel Allain also weighed in, saying it was "important to keep the policy, not only to keep it, but to strengthen it."
Among the provisions under review is a section that allows students under the age of 16 to adopt new names and pronouns at school without their parents being told.
Higgs has made clear he doesn't like that provision.
Carr avoided criticizing the premier but said all MLAs have "a duty in the community to understand how we as legislators form policy that affect people in our communities."
That includes "students in our schools who oftentimes have nobody to confide in. And it took me a while to understand why they wouldn't go to their families or their parents first," he said.
"So they confide in a teacher, they confide in a guidance counsellor who doesn't judge them right out of the gate."
Other elements of the policy under review allow a student to play on sports teams and use washrooms that align with their gender identity.
Carr said if New Brunswick wants to present itself as "inclusive and welcoming, then we need to walk that walk and talk that talk."
His comments follow a social media post Wednesday from Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard that pointed out the new Child and Youth Wellbeing Act she brought to the legislature.
It lays out the rights of children receiving social services to take part in decision-making that affects them and guarantees them privacy.
Shephard said those principles should be part of the conversation around the LGBTQ policy.
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