A Regina judge has ruled the Saskatchewan government’s name and pronoun policy should be put on hold for the time being, but Premier Scott Moe says he will use the notwithstanding clause to override it.
Moe, responding to the injunction issued today by Regina King’s Court Judge Michael Megaw, said he intends to convene the legislature on Oct. 10 to “pass legislation to protect the rights of parents.”
“Our government is extremely dismayed by the court’s judicial overreach blocking implementation of the parental consent and inclusion policy, a policy that has strong support from the majority of Saskatchewan residents, particularly parents of Saskatchewan,” Moe said in a written statement. Thursday afternoon.
“The default position should never be to withhold a child’s information from their parents.”
Last month, the province announced that all students under the age of 16 needed parental consent to change their names or pronouns.
Moe previously said he supports the policy and that the province will do everything in its power to protect parents’ rights.
The notwithstanding clause is a provision that allows governments to override certain Charter rights for up to five years by passing legislation.
The clause can only override certain sections of the charter dealing with fundamental freedoms, legal rights and equal rights, but cannot be used to override democratic rights. Once invoked, the notwithstanding clause prevents any judicial review of the legislation in question.
Blue sky49:11The Notwithstanding Clause Explained
A Regina court is hearing an application for an injunction to stop the province from implementing a policy that affects students who choose to use different names or pronouns at school. The Saskatchewan Party government has promised to enshrine the policy in law using the Charter’s notwithstanding clause, if necessary. Constitutional law expert Eric Adams gives us a closer look at the notwithstanding clause, including what rights can be overridden and what safeguards exist.
In a Thursday night post on social media site despite a court order “that should have given them pause.”
He added that the province is acting before the court has reviewed the policy to determine its constitutionality.
“A judge agreed that what the government is doing may cause irreparable harm to some of its young people,” Virani wrote.
“The violation of individual rights should not be a decision taken lightly.”
My response to the Saskatchewan government’s intention to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause: pic.twitter.com/McLbmC9Xqg
Judge grants injunction to stop politics
Earlier Thursday, Megaw issued its 56-page ruling ordering that the policy be suspended until a full hearing can be held.
“I determine that the protection of these young people outweighs the government’s expressed interest, pending a full and complete hearing,” Megaw wrote.
UR Pride filed a lawsuit asking for the policy to be rescinded. Their position was that it could cause teachers to expose or misgender children and that such a policy violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Last week, UR Pride attorneys sought an injunction, pending a ruling in the lawsuit.
Lawyers for the province say the policy has been misinterpreted. They say parents should be involved when their children decide to change their names or pronouns.
Megaw’s decision halts politics for now.
Megaw wrote that until there can be a full hearing, “the importance of government policy is outweighed by the public interest in not exposing that minority of students to the potentially irreparable harm and mental health difficulty of being unable to find expression for their gender identity.”
Megaw ruled that the policy cannot be implemented or enforced until the court has decided its legitimacy.
Arguments for and against the policy are scheduled to be heard in court in November. Megaw said that should provide a timely resolution for all parties, so it’s best to pause the politics until then.
“This matter will be examined quickly and long before the end of the first school semester. This necessarily means that the injunctive measure must have a limited duration,” he wrote.
Megaw also said the government “does not appear to present an argument that such treatment of younger students is in their best interests or will necessarily lead to better outcomes for them from a mental health perspective. Nothing in the policy recognizes. .the need for professional assistance for those students with gender dysphoria.”
Matt Love, the NDP’s opposition education critic, said it’s clear the pronoun policy needs to be “eliminated” immediately.
“The government should not introduce legislation in the fall session to sign this policy into law, and it certainly should not do so by relying on the notwithstanding clause to advance this policy,” Love said in a written statement.
“The Children’s Ombudsman has already determined that this policy violates the rights of vulnerable children.”
Read the court ruling here: