Across Canada many people and groups have been concerned about the rise of Conservative parties in certain parts of the country. A lot of that concern is well founded, as many of these conservative parties have promised to roll back and eliminate a lot of progressive policy that’s helped to advance these provinces and our country as a whole. One such group that has been rightfully concerned has been the LGBT community, and this is especially true in Alberta.

In Alberta we just saw the election of the Kenney Conservatives, and among the very first things that they have moved to do is attack Gay/Straight Alliances (GSAs) in Alberta schools. They have already moved a bill to do this; Bill 8 will gut protections for GSAs in Alberta schools, and allow schools to notify parents, without a students’ consent, that their child has joined a GSA. Needless to say, these changes go completely against the whole spirit of these clubs and risks outing kids against their will.

So during the provincial election this year, this topic was a big part of the debate and a big part of peoples concerns. Despite that, the Kenney Conservatives tried to downplay that and also tried to downplay Kenney’s own history of trying to deny LGBT people basic rights. These are all things that don’t fit in the consensus of what our country is today, yet they are continuing to push for this. That has led to student walkouts right after the election of the Kenney Conservatives, in support of maintaining GSA’s as they were.

But through it all, this government has ignored those pleas and have pushed forward. That all led to an awful moment the other day during a press conference that Alberta Education Minister Adriana Lagrange was giving. She was asked about this topic and here is the response that she gave:

“Whatever”? Seriously, that’s what spewed out of her mouth? She couldn’t even bare to give these youth the dignity of saying the word? What in the Hell is wrong with saying the word Minister? Geeze!!! And they wonder why people are upset and don’t trust them when it comes to this. Of course, people have not responded well to this at all:

I would say that this minister of… ummm… whatever owes some huge apologies but given the way that this group rolls, I doubt that’s coming. Needless to say though, there is a huge problem here when a Minister of Education refers to the students that she is responsible for as “whatever”. It shows that you care less about those students, or not at all, and that’s just cold and callous on a level all of its own. What parents or family member would ever accept a government minister viewing their loved one in such a way?

None, but given Jason Kenney’s track record and some of the MLA’s he’s attracted to his cause, this doesn’t come as a surprise at all. I’d hope that conservative people who are equally upset by this abhorrent behaviour will call this out and demand better. I wouldn’t expect it from Andrew Scheer, as he won’t even march in a pride parade in an election year and literally “walk the walk” when it comes to supporting the LGBT community. But I know there are many good conservatives who saw that video and were just as upset as so many other Canadians. I hold out hope that they will step up and demand better from their leaders.

In teacher’s college, one of the concepts that I was taught was the idea of “in loco parentis”, which is Latin for “in the place of a parent.” As teachers, we’re taught that we must act in the best interests of our students, just as a parent would for their own children. It’s a concept that helps guide not just the way a teacher conducts themselves in the classroom, but how they approach the profession in general. I believe it is a belief in that concept and dedication to their students that pushes teachers to work long hours, on their own time and spend their own money to ensure that their students get the best that they can give them. We can all point to teachers in our lives who have shown us that same dedication. This is a concept that I would hope that a Minister of Education would be familiar with, someone who is in charge of leading a provinces education system. Yet with these words today, it’s pretty clear that Minister Lagrange doesn’t understand that. I doubt that she would stand for it if anyone referred to her kids as “whatever”, yet she did that to thousands of kids she is responsible for in Alberta and signaled to thousands more across the country how she and her government feel about them. How can she possibly lead this department with any authority, moral or otherwise, after uttering what she did? That’s a question I think that many people are asking themselves today, and it’s one that this minister should be asking herself as well.