The Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) is saying they will not remain silent in the face of falsehoods and misinformation from any political party.
Earlier this week, audio of UCP Candidate for Lacombe-Ponoka, Jennifer Johnson, surfaced. In the recording made available by the NDP, Johnson makes several claims about teachers and schools.
“We’ve got pornography in the schools that is open to all of these kids… completely pornographic, hardcore, not softcore, hardcore pornography in the elementary schools,” says Johnson in the recording.
Johnson claims that students in Alberta are identifying as cats. She then goes on to agree with a person who says Lindsay Thurber school in Red Deer has a cat-litter box available for such students, should they need to use it. Harvard Media News has reached out to Lindsay Thurber School for comment on this claim but has not yet received a response.
Johnson further states she favoured ending all sex education curriculum in Alberta schools.
“We have got to get rid of sex education from the schools K-12,” says Johnson in the recording.
The ATA says the allegations against teachers and schools are harmful and false.
“These are baseless claims and it is unbecoming of someone who wants to be a MLA in our province,” says Jason Schilling, President of The Alberta Teachers’ Association.
Prior to the election, the UCP Candidate for Lethbridge-West, Tory Tanner, resigned after similar claims came to light. Tanner suggested teachers were showing pornographic materials to students as young as kindergarten age.
Thomas Lukaszuk, former Deputy Premier, and a teacher himself, believes the comments from Johnson show a trend in the UCP party.
“The UCP is demonizing public education and teachers as agents of a ‘deep state’ force intent on demoralizing and indoctrinating our children,” says Lukaszuk.
“Danielle Smith and some of her candidates attempt to undermine our trust in public education, arguing that private and charter schooling will better reflect some parents’ individual values and views.”
The ATA says teachers teach the program of studies using resources that are vetted by government, school boards and other teachers.
“I would encourage all party candidates to reach out to teachers and teacher leaders about the realities facing our schools rather than listening to debunked myths,” says Schilling.
“It’s important to focus on the realities our schools are facing, not misinformation.”
The NDP are calling on UCP leader, Danielle Smith, to remove Johnson as a candidate, calling her comments extreme, appalling, discriminatory, backwards, and disgusting.
The ATA notes when Tory Tanner’s views became public, the UCP party said her comments did not reflect party policy and she stepped down as a candidate.
“I believe this candidate should step aside as Ms. Tanner did especially if they do not reflect the UCP party’s policy,” says Schilling.
A statement released by the UCP says Johnson’s comments were in reference to schools in the USA, and not Alberta.