Opinion Column

Mercer should stay in his own sandbox

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

People from other provinces need to butt out of Alberta politics.


I’m all for debate, but I’m tired of those who don’t understand what truly is going on here make misinformed comments, riling up residents of other provinces and have them grab their virtual pitchforks to go “teach those fascist, con-loving Albertans” a lesson.

Gay Straight Alliances seem to have replaced pipelines and the carbon tax lately as the topic of choice. Usually it’s just some Twitter troll jumping on Premier Rachel Notley’s “gay-outing” rhetoric, but this past week, it was CBC’s political comedian Rick Mercer in a rant where he joined Notley in believing United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney wants to see kids “outed” and told him to “pick on someone your own size.”

I don’t blame Notley for slamming Kenney over GSAs the way she is. He’s a threat to her government, and making him out to be a homophobic person prone to discrimination is an easy way to stir fear amongst voters – particularly minority groups – and sway them in her favour. She’s allowed to be partisan and I’d expect nothing less. I do, however, blame people like Mercer for believing a partisan party’s words as gospel and feeding them to the gullible masses under the guise of informed “comedy.”

His bit was anything but.

He portrayed Kenney as some idiotic schmuck living under a rock who is shocked and appalled by the mere existence of GSAs. Like Notley, he bashed him as being a big bully who wants to see children outed to their parents.

“This is all about outing young people and it’s serious because there’s a very good chance Jason Kenney will be the next premier of Alberta. Jason, stop it,” Mercer said. “Stick to playground rules. Pick on someone your own size.”

My issue with this is it came across as a personal attack on Kenney and anyone who might share concerns over the recently passed Bill 24. It wasn’t about policy. It wasn’t about anything but trying to paint Kenney and Albertans also opposed to Bill 24 as homophobic.

He could’ve actually read into what the actual concerns over the bill were. They certainly weren’t over the existence of GSAs, and no one I’ve talked to has said they’re against GSAs. They have concerns about government overreach, over the NDP creating division between parents and teachers, and parents and their children. They have concerns over creating confusion for young children.

Kenney himself has visited Lacombe several times. I’ve heard the story of a 12-year-old autistic girl who expressed confusion over whether she was a girl or a boy. She was then assigned a boy’s name and referred to as a boy by the school, but no one told her parents. She was a girl at home, a boy at school, which just resulted in more confusion for the child.

If there was reason to believe the child’s parents would be abusive if they knew she was going through a challenging situation, then by all means, don’t tell them. Why make it impossible, however, to reach out to parents with a child going through that for help? How is withholding that information benefitting the child?

To me, it looks like there’s an awful lot of whitewashing of parents as being incapable of accepting their children. Do they really think most out there would be unloving and abusive to children coming out as gay, or confused about their orientation? Shouldn’t we be fostering an environment where these kinds of situations can be talked about openly, rather than using it to divide and alienate parents from their children?

Given the uproar over the whole GSA issue, I would say the majority of parents would be accepting of their children, so why put a wall between them?

Furthermore, joining a Gay Straight Alliance doesn’t make one gay anymore than it makes one straight. It is a GAY STRAIGHT Alliance, so this obsessions over “outing” someone is ridiculous.

Oh, but non-Albertans know so much more about the new NDP law than we do, and about how bigoted we all are for having concerns over it.

If we want to talk about sticking to playground rules, you don’t wander into someone else’s playground to pick a fight, much less over an issue you don’t have all the facts on.

Rick Mercer and people from Ontario and other provinces eager to jump all over Albertans should just stay in their own sandbox.


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