Looking out for the best interests of the child


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There is a very human reaction to children that almost all of us share – the desire to protect them. Particularly those who are vulnerable. This is why the deliberate targeting of a group of children for political gain is so reprehensible.

A lot has been written about how the MAGA types have deliberately targeted transgender youth. I encourage you to google it, and ask yourself this – do you or your children know or experience a lot of transgender kids? Is there a burning issue in whatever sport your kids engage in such that a transgender child with a different physique is threatening their future Olympic dreams as some allude to? I strongly suspect the answer is no. If you stop to question this, you will realize you are being cynically manipulated into allowing Danielle Smith to bully a vulnerable group of kids.

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If you are aware of a transgender child in your, or your children’s, personal orbit – I assure you that they are someone going through a deeply difficult path towards adulthood. Their parents, doctor, teachers and friends are travelling that difficult path alongside them, doing their very best to educate themselves, and learn how to be caring and supportive – but always just trying to act in this child’s best interests.

The best interests of the child should always be at the forefront of any policy that affects them. This is not just my opinion, this is the principle agreed to by 192 nations (including Canada) who have ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (the “Convention”). The Convention has the rare distinction of being the most ratified treaty in international law. The fundamental principle of which is that priority is given, at law, to the best interests of the child. It is based on a very simple, common sense concept that we should protect our kids by agreeing to always act in their best interests.

The best interests of the child principle, as enshrined in Article 3 of the Convention, requires that all actions concerning children should prioritize their well-being and development. It takes into account multiple factors, including physical, emotional, and psychological well-being, education, cultural and religious background, and the child’s views. This holistic approach ensures that decisions are made in the child’s best interests, considering their unique circumstances.

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This principle recognizes that children are vulnerable and need special protection and care. It should guide decision-making processes, including legislation, to ensure the child’s overall welfare is safeguarded.

While parents have an essential role to play in their children’s development, proposed legislation that solely focuses on parental rights without prioritizing the best interests of the child can have negative consequences. It is crucial to strike a balance between parental roles and the child’s best interests, ensuring that the child’s well-being is not compromised.

Prioritizing the best interests of the child in legislation leads to positive long-term outcomes. By focusing on the child’s well-being, we invest in their future, enabling them to become well-adjusted, productive members of society.

This is not to diminish the essential role parents play in the development of their kids. Parental involvement and decision-making play a crucial role in a child’s life, and legislation should aim to find a harmonious equilibrium. However, the Alberta government’s proposed legislation targets a highly vulnerable transgender minority, requiring parental notifications to teenagers who may fear retribution at home crassly eliminates safe independent guidance to those children. It even infringes on the sacrosanct private relationship between a person and their physician. The “parental rights” advocated by Premier Smith are designed to divide us and mobilize her base, as opposed to honouring our shared responsibility to protect our children.

The best interests of the child should be the guiding principle when developing legislation that affects children. The Convention provides a comprehensive framework that prioritizes the well-being and development of children. While parental interests are important, they should be balanced with the best interests of the child to ensure their overall welfare. This government’s proposed legislation falls well short of this globally accepted standard

Brian Thiessen is a lawyer and chair of Calgary Act Now.

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