Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says her government will amend legislation to extend abortion protest bubble zones around K-12 schools in Alberta.

Hoffman’s decision comes on the back of social media footage from Calgary this week which showed anti-abortion protesters confronting students from Queen Elizabeth High School with placards as students entered their school.

That led Alberta Party candidate Angela Kokott to call for action to prohibit the protests, and it seems the government agreed.

“It’s completely uncalled for,” Hoffman told Postmedia Friday afternoon.

“Anyone who thinks it’s OK to engage in that behaviour, be forewarned — it’s not — and our government would take steps to make sure it’s completely outlawed.”

Timing in the air

With an election approaching, Hoffman acknowledged the time crunch will make it tough to pass an amendment in the spring session — along with the fact she currently has other pieces of important work on the go in her ministry.

“There has to be an election between now and May 31, so that’s a factor in our ability to pass legislation,” she said.

Still, she said, it’s a priority for her government.

“(Students) should be able to go to school, hang up their backpacks and get to work without being harassed or intimidated, and we’re going to work to expand the legislation we brought in previously,” she said.

That means Bill 9, a piece of legislation the legislature passed last spring, which created protest-free bubble zones around Alberta abortion clinics, would be amended.

United Conservative MLAs refused to vote on or debate the bill, leaving the chamber repeatedly. At the time, UCP Leader Jason Kenney accused the NDP of playing political games with “divisive social issues.”

Feedback welcome

Hoffman said she had heard from concerned parents over the past 24 hours since the footage was posted on social media.

She has also spoken with Education Minister David Eggen and Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley — who is running for re-election in the same riding as Queen Elizabeth School — and they’re all on the same page.

“If Albertans have other spaces they think should be considered for expansion, I’d certainly welcome that feedback,” Hoffman said Friday.

“This is a serious issue, and I think it’s important for government to respond seriously.”

egraney@postmedia.com

twitter.com/EmmaLGraney

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Source:: Edmonton Journal – Politics

      

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Government ponders abortion protest bubble zones for schools

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