Alberta United Conservatives resume walk out from Chamber to protest abortion clinic bill

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Accused of misogyny and cowardice, Alberta’s United Conservatives remained silent over the government’s proposed bill to ban anti-abortion protesting within 50 meters of clinics.

Bill 9 is also known as the “Protecting Choice for Women Accessing Health Care Act.” It bans demonstrations within 50 metres of an abortion clinic, allowing women the access to health care without harassment.

Bringing Alberta in line with provinces like British Columbia and Ontario, this bill is likely to be tabled quite soon.

Are these protesters exercising their right to freedom of speech, or are they targeting, shaming, and harassing vulnerable woman?

The bill would charge any protesters who breach the 50 meter safe zone surrounding abortion clinics. Alberta’s two main abortion clinics in Edmonton and Calgary already have restraining orders as a method of deterrence. Unfortunately, clinic officials have stated that protesters often ignore these restraints, an offence which would hopefully be reduced by the introduction of a new law.

What happened during the debate?

Approximately 10 members were present during the debate in the morning and the afternoon. When voting began, the United Conservatives walked out of the chamber.

Party leader Jason Kenney remained absent during the vote, while caucus revealed that no one would be commenting.

This pointed absence is not a valid way for a party to represent their constituents—instead, the act shows a sense of political irresponsibility.

The Alberta United Conservatives are not doing their job by walking out—if they disagree with a bill, the appropriate action to take is to vote against it.

Party leader Kenney is known to disagree with abortion but has never revealed his intention to legislate it.

He has openly discussed the bill as “political gamesmanship” by the NDP and has made it clear that his members will not be participating in it.

Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman spoke to the house in regards to the actions of the United Conservatives. She stated that their actions were nothing short of cruel irony: members come to work every day protected by security and legislature, but refuse to allow the same protection for women exercising their medical rights.

When political leaders ignore the voting system that has been implemented in order for them to do what they were elected to do, and instead passive-aggressively make their views known by their own absence, the Canadians who share their opinion are left unrepresented.

To vote against the bill would be to vote against the rights of vulnerable women who deserve protection under legislation—but ignoring the vote altogether is an inexcusable shirking of political responsibility.