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New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs April 2024 Image: CPAC

N.B. premier maintains stance on parental values

By Tara Clow Apr 12, 2024 | 1:26 PM

Parental values were a focus during discussions with New Brunswick’s premier.

Blaine Higgs spoke at an annual Conservative conference held in Ottawa this week.

Higgs was asked about controversial changes made to Policy 713, the province’s LGBTQ+ policy in schools.

“It’s extremely rare if you ever get a consensus in caucus. We could have talked about it a lot longer, but I didn’t see an end in sight. We were never going to convince some and we had the support of around 80 per cent of the caucus, so we were ready to move on it,” says Higgs.

He says after the election in 2020, he started asking detailed questions about Policy 713 because he felt that a paragraph involving teachers and keeping information from parents just wasn’t right.

Under the updated policy, teachers are no longer allowed to use a trans or non-binary child under 16’s preferred name or pronoun, formally or informally, without parental consent.

Students have always required parental consent for their preferred first name and pronoun to be used for official records, however, nothing was preventing a teacher from doing so informally.

“This isn’t the foundation of families that we were built on. My wife and I talked about this prior to making it an issue,” he says.

“We’ve been married for 46 years this summer with four daughters, and five grandchildren and are very close to our family. The idea that we would hide information, we thought, how would we like that, if that happened?”

Higgs adds that the real challenge was finding a way to debate on such a sensitive issue. He adds he didn’t anticipate this would turn into a national issue.

“When my wife and I talked about this we both realized this could be the issue that either continues us in government or takes us out, but we were both prepared to say, ‘Fair enough.'”

Higgs also spoke openly about his stance on parental consent.

“Isn’t it amazing that in today’s world, ‘far right’ is having parents involved with their kids? That tells you how far the spectrum has actually moved.”

He adds he will always voice his opinion in a very respectful and mannerful way to improve what he believes needs to be improved.

“It doesn’t have to be protests and blowing horns and jumping on the streets, but instead it’s very adult discussions that say, ‘I’m not afraid to talk about it.'”