It was inspiring to see so many parents hit the streets on Sunday advocating for what used to be an uncontroversial position – the right for parents to be parents.
The 1 Million March 4 Children (or Million Person March, as it’s sometimes called) rejected indoctrination masquerading as education and stood up for parents as the primary educators of their children.
This was evidently offensive to the counter-protesters who came out in droves to fight what they fervently maligned as “hate.”
Anyone who looked at footage from the protests would see that the hate and venom were coming not from the parental rights activists, but from the counter-demonstrators.
Much of this resistance was led by public sector unions, particularly those representing education workers. It should alarm parents how much these folks want to wall off the classroom to parents.
It isn’t just about what kids are being taught in schools, but also what they do at school. It was arguably New Brunswick’s policy requiring parental consent for students under 16 to change their gender and pronouns at school that triggered this latest wave of parental rights discourse.
I’m struck by the sign photographed by my True North colleague Harrison Faulkner, telling concerned parents, “You don’t own your kids.”
Anyone who is a parent will likely agree. Parents don’t own their kids, but the teachers and unions sure as hell don’t either, despite their best efforts. It’s parents, not schools, who are responsible for children’s wellbeing.
The union activists were candid about the extent to which they hold concerned parents in contempt.
This was abundantly clear if you watched the hour-long Zoom call, leaked online this week, in which union activists plotted their efforts to counter the 1 Million March.
“The fascists are organizing in the streets,” said Ottawa activist during the meeting. “This is far more than just a far-right transphobic protest. They are fundamentally racist, they are fundamentally anti-union, they are fundamentally queer- and transphobic.”
Cupe Ontario president Fred Hahn defiantly said yesterday that “white supremacists are absolutely funding, supporting, and cajoling parents into these events.”
It would be news to the brown, hijab-wearing, Muslim organizer Bahira Abdulsalam that she a “fundamentally racist” “white supremacist,” I’m sure.
Vilifying the parental rights movement will prove to be a miscalculation for the anti-parent and anti-children left. Polling shows parents overwhelmingly believe they have a right to know if one of their children starts going to by another name and gender at school.
The governments in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have started following New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs’ lead. Higgs’ unrelenting efforts have mainstreamed the debate, which we saw in real time this week.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre was initially silent on the Wednesday march, with his office even telling caucus members to keep quiet. By Friday, Poilievre was calling out Justin Trudeau’s denunciation of the protest as a hatefest.
"Justin Trudeau always divides to distract from all he has broken," Poilievre wrote. "This time, he is demonizing concerned parents. Parents should be the final authority on the values and lessons that are taught to children. Trudeau should butt out and let parents raise their kids."
I don’t know why it took Poilievre until Friday to say what he did. Maybe there was a debate on his team about whether or not to do so. Maybe they were waiting for some polling to come back. Maybe Poilievre wanted Trudeau to comment so he could respond and have the last word rather than speaking out first and giving that opportunity to Trudeau.
Whatever the reason, it’s notable that even the perennially cautious Conservative Party of Canada is willing to wade into the right side of an ongoing culture war, however belatedly.
As we saw during the Covid era, people who are otherwise disinterested in politics will get involved when politics intrude on their lives. This is the reality facing Canadian parents right now.
Just as unvaccinated people didn’t take kindly being maligned as racist misogynists, parents uneasy about their eight year old son living a secret life as a girl at school are going to resist being inexplicably written off as hateful white supremacists.
If you only know one thing about the natural world, it’s to never get in between a momma bear and her cubs. Trudeau and the unions may not yet have learned this lesson, but you better believe they soon will.
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