Did Rachel warn him that his declarations are costing more votes than they’re winning?
When an outspoken politician suddenly falls silent, be assured that somebody has got to him with an unpleasant message: “Please do us all a favour, and try to keep your big mouth shut for a change.” Something less lucid than that, probably, but the meaning got through. The particular politician I have in mind has become well known to many in the Canadian province where I live, Alberta. He is David Eggen, our minister of Education. Within a week or so he will have completed an entire session of the Legislature without enraging anybody.
This was a first for Mr. Eggen. In the past, he has picked fights with the Catholics, the home-schoolers, parents, pastors and finally all of my group, the pious and the prudes, whom he customarily assails with unremitting fervour.
So unremitting that we rather miss being infuriated by him. Here we are, nearly half way through April, and he’s given us almost nothing to be outraged about. What’s going on?
We think we know, of course. It’s that Notley woman–Rachel Notley the socialist premier of Alberta, distinguished from other lady premiers in Canada by not becoming a total embarrassment to practically everybody in her province. Besides which, she’s very good looking, a quality that does not go unobserved by us aging lecherous journalists.
Besides which, she is a woman in distress. In fact her situation is hopeless. The economy of her province depends almost wholly on our somehow acquiring a right to build a pipeline to ship our burgeoning oil reserves to the sea. Premier Rachel’s socialist New Democratic Party in the past has been very loud in its opposition to pipelines. Why we were asinine enough to elect that party to govern us will provide a question for political scientists to undertake for years to come. In the meantime, she has had to do a political U-turn and become the improbable champion of an improbable project. The task as I say, is impossible. Small wonder she’s getting nowhere with it.
In the meantime, as if pipelines weren’t enough, she has to deal with the Eggen problem. You can imagine her appeal: “Be a good guy, will you David? Just back off on some of this stuff. You’ve cost us the Catholics, the Bible Belt, the parents, the home-schoolers. Who\s next on your list?. I’ll make a nice speech endorsing your ‘sexual minorities’ clubs in the schools. But that’s it. Stop all the talk of creating a new kind of Albertan with your new school curriculum. and stop sounding like you believe Albertans to be sex-obsessed. Talk more of things like maths and English. and how we can improve in those departments. Are you hearing me, David?”
He was. Or so it seems from the record. Janice French of the Edmonton Journal got a significant response in a year-end interview with him last December. She asked: What’s something you did this year that made you think, “Hmm, that didn’t go as planned.” He did not answer her question, but instead focussed on a provincial program to cut school fees. “The act to reduce school fees was a big undertaking, and it’s an ongoing process. I’m continuing on the path to further reduce school fees over time, over this next school year again.”
The implication: There was no downside. Everything went well. But in the prior year he had predicted the most overwhelming curriculum revision ever undertaken in Alberta, and he portrayed the sex clubs as providing a refuge for children from their parents. This time Mr. Eggen had mentioned neither the sex clubs nor the curriculum change. Rachel apparently had made her message stick.
Or perhaps there could be another explanation for his silence, particularly in regard to the sex clubs. Would the novelty of them wear off and will they simply fade away? Worst of all, could they go down with politically devastating consequences? I see three possible futures for them:
•They could become the highly infectious habitat of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s). There was already strong evidence of this in the United States where such clubs have been established for some years. As reported in this space several months ago, the Center for Disease Control in the U.S, has called attention to an “alarming” rise in STDs in age groups that exactly parallel the establishment of these clubs. Whether this report was ever circulated in Canada, I do not know.
But it raises a question: If a young person who belongs to one of these clubs comes down with a crippling STD because he did not receive adequate medical care, who is to blame? The parent? No, because Alberta has made it illegal for anyone to inform a parent if the child belongs to such a club. The school teaching staff? No, and for the same reason. The government itself? Probably yes, because it has effectually assumed the legal obligations of the parent in this regard. That is one effect of this utterly irresponsible legislation.
• Paedophilia: This is a persistent crime– so persistent that American public schools are circulated with literature on how to detect and prevent it. But the clubs could easily become an immensely profitable avenue through which youngsters could be recruited in the schools and sold outside for the pleasures of a “sexual minority” that is fond of children.
• The club movement will go too far. Sexual deviations — perversions, as they were once known— are addictive, requiring ever more deviant behaviour to provide fulfillment. Their advocates present these clubs as purely “social” — like circles of classical Greek philosophers, endlessly debating what should and what should not be “acceptable.” If they became that and nothing more, the bored, which would include most of the membership, would soon quit. The fact that brings them into being is sexual, and it is to sexual activity that they will assuredly be drawn. The limits of public adherence will soon be exceeded. This will end them.
Now it’s just possible, of course. that Premier Rachel herself foresaw this, and urged her Education minister to find other things to talk about. School fees, for instance. Or maybe even maths and English.
Ted Byfield was founder and publisher of Alberta Report news magazine, general editor of Alberta in the Twentieth Century, a 12-volume history of the province, and general editor of The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years, a 12-volume history of Christianity. His column on education appears in The Christians.com, a web journal. He has recently authored two little books on modern pedagogy: Why History Matters and The Revolution Nobody Covered. You can order both copies here.