In defiance of judge, Sask. premier to force school pronoun rules into law
In defiance of a King's Bench ruling, Saskatchewan's premier plans to force a controversial school pronoun policy into law.
A Regina judge issued an injunction on Thursday, effectively pressing pause on Saskatchewan's new policy until the court rules on a legal challenge mounted by the University of Regina Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity (UR Pride).
Soon after the ruling, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced his government will enshrine the policy into law and protect it through constitutional maneuvers.
In August, the province's education minister announced the new rules requiring students under 16-years-old to seek parental consent before changing their pronouns or preferred first names in a school setting.
The move was widely criticized by LGBTQ2S+ advocates who believed the policy could put gender-diverse youth at risk.
In late August, UR Pride announced it would file for the injunction as well as challenge the constitutionality of the policy. Egale Canada and law firm McCarthy Tétrault LLP are assisting the organization in its legal fight.
In his decision to grant the injunction, Justice Michael Megaw referenced the testimony of expert witnesses who pointed to the policy's potential harms.
"On the whole of the evidence, I am satisfied that those individuals affected by this policy, youth under the age of 16 who are unable to have their name, pronouns, gender diversity, or gender identity, observed in the school will suffer irreparable harm," Megaw wrote.
He dismissed many of the Saskatchewan government's arguments against the injunction, including a claim that without the policy a six-year-old child starting elementary school could ask to be called by a different name or pronoun, or be identified by a different gender.
"I find this argument lacks persuasiveness and to be without foundation or basis on the materials that are before the court on this application. There is no indication in the materials that any students as young as six years old are looking to engage in this discussion," Megaw said.
"Furthermore, there is no indication that teachers or any other educational professionals either have been asked, or will be asked, to engage in this discussion."
MOE TO RECALL LEGISLATURE
In a statement sent to media early Thursday afternoon, Moe announced the Legislative Assembly would be recalled early "to pass legislation to protect parents’ rights."
"Our government is extremely dismayed by the judicial overreach of the court," Moe said.
Moe said his majority Saskatchewan Party government would turn to the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian constitution, which would stave off potential Charter challenges after the policy becomes law.
Moe said the policy "has the strong support of a majority of Saskatchewan people, in particular, Saskatchewan parents."
In his decision, Megaw notes that between June and August, Saskatchewan's Ministry of Education received 18 letters expressing support for a similar policy announced in New Brunswick earlier this year. Seven of the authors identified themselves as parents of school-aged children.
Megaw said the government did not provide evidence it "discussed this new policy with any potential interested parties such as teachers, parents, or students."
"There is further no indication any expert assistance was enlisted to assist in determining the effect of the policy. Finally, there is no indication the ministry sought any legal assistance to determine the constitutionality of the policy," Megaw wrote.
In its initial court application, UR Pride, cited a message posted on X, formerly Twitter, as evidence of Moe admitting a "lack of expert consultation."
In the Aug. 27 message, Moe said he's been asked which experts the government consulted before the policy shift.
"I believe the leading experts in children's upbringing are their parents," Moe said in his tweet.
An Angus Reid poll conducted in July found Saskatchewan residents were split on the issue of parental consent for pronoun changes at school.
Opposition NDP education critic Matt Love said his party welcomes Megaw's decision to suspend the policy.
"The government should scrap this policy, which will force schools to out vulnerable kids," Love said in a statement.
"The government should not come forward with legislation in the fall sitting to put this policy into law, and they certainly shouldn’t do so relying on the notwithstanding clause to push this policy forward," Love said.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) blasted Moe's plan to invoke the notwithstanding clause — a constitutional mechanism that prevents Charter challenges for five years.
"The notwithstanding clause is the nuclear option," CCLA equality director Harini Sivalingam said in a news release.
"The notwithstanding clause is not a weapon to be used to strip anyone of their rights, let alone vulnerable and marginalized students," Sivalingam said.
The CCLA was granted intervenor status in the legal battle earlier this month.
The new school pronoun policy was announced following a strong byelection showing by the upstart Saskatchewan United Party in the constituency of Lumsden-Morse, a stronghold for Moe's ruling Saskatchewan Party.
Saskatchewan United campaigned on the controversy sparked by a Planned Parenthood sexual health resource that was provided to Grade 9 students in the town of Lumsden.
In addition to the pronoun policy, then-education minister Dustin Duncan announced new guidelines allowing parents to opt students out of sexual health programming.
The Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth launched a review immediately after the new school pronoun policy was announced.
In her report issued earlier this month, Lisa Broda said she found the policy could violate human rights.
"Many young people under the age of 16 will have the capacity to make this type of decision. Giving them the chance to demonstrate capacity is an important step in accommodating their right to their gender identity,” Broda said in her report.
Prior to the start of the academic year, Saskatchewan's school boards jointly asked the province to pause the "sudden" policy changes until they were assured the "directives are not putting young people in harm's way and are not contrary to their human rights."
The Shopping Trends team is independent of the journalists at CTV News. We may earn a commission when you use our links to shop. Read about us.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Canada will more than double the cost-of-living financial requirement for incoming international students on Jan. 1, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marc Miller announced today.
A draft report from a United Nations agency gives Canada a C grade on flight safety and oversight, down from an A+ and far below most of its peers.
A Russian girl shot several classmates at school Thursday, killing one person and wounding five others before killing herself, state news agencies and authorities said.
A box-shaped cloud of opaque dust that lies at the centre of our galaxy has long perplexed scientists, and observations that reveal a new detail about its composition are deepening the mystery — possibly upending what’s known about how stars form.
Amid concern over Canadians going hungry, Conservatives criticized for voting against school food bill
As Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre continues to voice concern over the increase in food bank usage, his party is being criticized by some for voting against a private member's bill that would advance a framework for a national school food program.
Winter weather is underway in parts of Canada with three storm systems bringing messy conditions from B.C. to Newfoundland and Labrador.
Buffalo Bills edge rusher Von Miller declined to take questions at his locker on Thursday, a week after turning himself in to police in a Dallas suburb after allegedly assaulting the mother of his children, who is pregnant.
Judge rules in favour of NBA star, nullifies purchase of $8M Burlington mansion once occupied by 'crypto king'
A judge has ruled in favour of NBA star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in his lawsuit against a company that sold him a Burlington mansion previously occupied by self-proclaimed ‘crypto king’ Aiden Pleterski.
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly is condemning sexual violence committed by Hamas during its attack on Israel, after weeks of pressure to speak out.
On Wednesday, an expert witness walked the court through messages suggesting a love triangle between a former Saskatchewan Mountie, his wife, and the man he’s accused of killing.
The majority of Saskatoon special care homes may be "chemically" managing residents with anti-psychotic drugs, an independent audit found.
As Saskatchewan managed to escape brutal cold temperatures going into December, some in Lloydminster are hoping for a chance to simply sleep indoors.
A number of southern Manitoba cities, towns and communities broke heat records on Wednesday, with above-seasonal temperatures expected to continue for the next few days.
A basketball referee is facing sexual assault charges after Winnipeg police say two victims have come forward.
Cindy Woodhouse became the new national chief of the Assembly of First Nations on Thursday, when she pleaded with Canadians to support the people she represents -- and warned them to pay attention.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek won't be attending this year's annual menorah lighting, a ceremony that marks the beginning of Hanukkah.
Some quick thinking from witnesses of a crash in northeast Calgary on Wednesday helped rescue a two-year-old girl who was trapped under a vehicle.
Another seven weather records were set in Alberta on Wednesday, including one that was 123 years old.
Police shot and killed a woman in southeast Edmonton on Wednesday.
Police have charged a man they allege pulled the trigger in "an early morning shootout" in southwest Edmonton last year.
A 47-year-old truck driver has been ticketed for careless driving after an RCMP cruiser was hit on the QEII Highway south of Edmonton on Sunday night, injuring two people.
Judge rules in favour of NBA star, nullifies purchase of $8M Burlington mansion once occupied by 'crypto king'
Police say a pedestrian was struck and killed by the driver of a garbage truck in the city's St. Clair West Village Thursday afternoon.
The provincial government is boosting its funding toward an anti-hate grant in an effort to combat what it calls a rise of antisemitism and Islamophobia across Ontario.
The Ottawa Police Service is looking for a man who allegedly threatened an OC Transpo passenger with a knife at Tunney's Pasture station early Thursday morning.
Ottawa issues $400,000 in fines for violating winter weather parking ban during first storm of the season
Bylaw officers buried Ottawa motorists in parking tickets for violating the winter weather parking ban during the first significant snowstorm of the season.
No one was hurt when several shots were fired at a home on rue Saint-Hyacinthe at approximately 12 a.m. on Wednesday.
The mother of B.C. teenager Amanda Todd, who was bullied into suicide by a Dutch national, says she'll be “so angry” if a court in Amsterdam doesn't give him significant extra jail time on the basis of his Canadian conviction last year.
A B.C. landlord has been ordered to pay $5,400 in strata fines racked up by a former tenant who was accused of breaching the building's bylaws 75 times.
The skeletal remains of a 39-year-old hiker who went missing in the southern Vancouver Island backcountry one year ago have been found.
While Premier François Legault says he's 'very open on monetary issues' in exchange for more flexibility on the part of unions in managing public services, the Common Front counters that 'their flexibility means ripping pages out of our collective agreements.'
More than six years after it came into force, the majority of government employees are not familiar with the whistleblower legislation, according to the latest special report by the Québec Ombudsperson, tabled on Thursday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has appointed Manon Jeannotte as the new lieutenant-governor of Quebec.
While not getting anything for Christmas was hard, Jim Knutsen says the hardest part was having to keep it a secret when he returned to school.
Men charged with assault with a weapon, forcible confinement in 'targeted' incident on Vancouver Island
Mounties on Vancouver Island say two men are facing multiple charges after investigators found evidence that another man had been forcibly confined and assaulted with a weapon.
A new report by more than 30 researchers is estimating how much food will cost in 2024 and how much money it will take to feed families.
The Saint John Police Force says four people have been arrested for weapons offences, after a report of “armed peoples” entering a home in the city.
Nova Scotia's information and privacy commissioner has launched an investigation into the theft of personal information from a file-transfer system used by the provincial government.
GRAPHIC WARNING: A North Bay, Ont., mother is shocked after being told no charges will be laid against a school bus driver accused of sexually assaulting her now four-year-old daughter on her first day of school.
Police have arrested and charged two people after a traffic stop early Thursday morning in West Nipissing.
A provincial police officer with a keen eye conducted a traffic stop after spotting a vehicle featuring a rather unconventional "quick fix" in Penetanguishene.
A Brantford, Ont. woman accused faking pregnancies and stillbirths to defraud doulas has pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including fraud and mischief.
Sofyan Taya, a former guest scholar at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, was reportedly killed in an Israeli airstrike near Gaza City. His friend and former colleague called him a brilliant and gentle soul.
Crews are working to restore power in the area of Fischer Hallman Road and Erb Street West in Waterloo after a truck hit a power line.