The Hamilton Spectator

Alberta premier in Ottawa as Liberals decry ‘draconian’ policies

- STEPHANIE TAYLOR OTTAWA

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith defended her controvers­ial new suite of proposed transgende­r youth policies Monday as federal Liberals accused her of pushing an anti-LGBTQ agenda.

Smith was in Ottawa along with members of her cabinet to participat­e in the official opening of a provincial trade office, only a few blocks from Parliament Hill.

The occasion was meant to herald a new resource designed to better advance Alberta’s priorities and help create stronger relationsh­ips in the national capital.

However, the divisions between Smith’s United Conservati­ve Party government and the federal Liberals were on full display, the two sides exchanging barbs over proposed new pronoun policies for gender diverse children in Alberta schools, as well as new guidelines for hormone therapy.

Last week, in a roughly seven-anda-half minute video on social media, Smith detailed her government’s plan to ban puberty blockers and hormone therapy for children 15 and younger who have not already begun such treatments.

Her government also intends to require parental consent for kids 15 and under to go by a different name or pronoun at school. Teenagers aged 16-17 would not need permission, but schools would have to notify their guardians.

The policies have spurred several days of protest — both at the grassroots level as well as from groups like the Alberta Medical Associatio­n.

Medical profession­als “bear witness to the suffering and pain that arises from gender dysphoria,” the associatio­n said in a statement, as well as “questionin­g one’s identity without access to appropriat­e support to help them through their journey.”

Smith defended her government’s plan despite a barrage of criticism, including from the Canadian Paediatric Society, about the risks to children. There is no “single voice” that can speak on behalf of the entire transgende­r community, Smith suggested at one point. Smith said she has spoken to some transgende­r people who expressed concerns about the ability of children to transition at a young age.

Smith described the package of proposals as part of a “considered approach” she wants to take when it comes to children with diverse gender identities.

The goal is to ensure children are “fully informed” about the decisions they are making in the event they may regret them later in life, she added.

“We had to have a conversati­on about what is the appropriat­e ages to be able to make those life-altering decisions.”

Alberta’s controvers­ial plan to withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan was also discussed, Liberal ministers said.

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