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Sask. premier committed to expedite plans to force pronoun policy into law

Amid cries of support and criticism, the Saskatchewan government stays committed to expediting its plans to force a pronoun policy into law.

“Those implementation plans will be in effect sooner rather than later,” Premier Scott Moe said.

On Thursday, a judge ruled in favour of UR Pride’s legal counsel, granting a court injunction that essentially pauses the policy in schools until the judge decides if it’s constitutional or not.

Premier Moe plans to use the notwithstanding clause to override the ruling, which is a rare move for provincial governments.

Outside of Quebec, the clause has only been used a handful of times since 1982.

“It’s I think pretty noteworthy that the two of those half dozen times have been Saskatchewan on schooling issues kind of around morality and religion,” said Jim Farney, director and associate professor at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.

Political experts say the Saskatchewan government could move quickly on this legislation, in theory passing the bill in a week, once the legislature reconvenes Oct. 10.

This would put into question upcoming court arguments in the constitutional challenge initiated by UR Pride.

“The case continues. We still have our hearing scheduled in November. The litigation of the constitutionality of this policy will carry on until such time as it ends and it isn’t over yet,” said Adam Goldenberg, partner at McCarthy Tetrault.

There is broad interest on both sides of the outcome, but Richard Moon, a constitutional lawyer, says the judge might not make a decision if the clause is invoked.

“I think it is very unlikely that a court would be willing to hear a case and would consider it non-judicial or moot at this point if a declaration were in fact made,” he said.

The NDP has expressed strong opposition to the policy, but Saskatchewan United Party MLA Nadine Wilson has been pushing for parental rights and said she will be happy to see if and when the notwithstanding clause is invoked.

In a statement, she said "we are sending a clear message that the voices of our parents matter, and their interests remain our top priority.”

If Saskatchewan follows through on its use of the notwithstanding clause, experts say a judge could decide not to hear UR Pride’s case.

However, until the clause is invoked, the court injunction stands, and school divisions will have to stand down on implementing the pronoun policy. Top Stories

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