It would be rather presumptuous of me, as a man, to opine on what the biggest women’s issue today in Alberta is.

It wouldn’t be a stretch, though, to point to the economy — or more specifically, the uncertainty plaguing the oil and gas industry — as perhaps the issue most top of mind among all Albertans.

But just because we can rank issues based on urgency or importance, doesn’t mean the government can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Dealing with something lower down the list does not necessarily preclude us or distract us from addressing those bigger issues.

Providing abortion clinics in Alberta with a “bubble zone” law to keep protesters 50 metres away — as Bill 9 proposes to do — is probably not the biggest issue facing the province right now. If it were, we’d have to wonder why the government has taken nearly three years to get around to addressing it.

And while one can certainly argue that Bill 9 is unnecessary, or that it goes too far in infringing on freedom of expression, it’s not out of bounds for the government to raise the issue. But rather than act as the official opposition, the United Conservative Party has instead chosen to flee in terror from this bill. It is a sad sight.

In the view of UCP Leader Jason Kenney, this bill is a distraction from the government’s economic issues and a political trap for his party. Maybe that’s all true. But it doesn’t change the fact that abortion clinics in Alberta have been asking for such a law for quite some time.

Nonetheless, Kenney has made it clear that he will abstain from voting on the bill and the UCP caucus will oppose it. Not only that, but a week ago today, UCP MLAs walked out en masse during debate on Bill 9.

One UCP MLA later claimed that the departure was in response to heckling from the government benches. But is it really the UCP’s contention that they needed to establish a safe distance between themselves and those hurling abusive words? The irony seems lost on them.

If the UCP is sincere in their position that they will not partake in what is a political game on the NDP’s part, there’s still the reality that a new law is being created. New governments may not get around to dismantling all of their predecessors’ initiatives, but it seems pretty …read more



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Breakenridge: Opposition can’t hide from NDP’s abortion clinic ‘bubble zone’ bill

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