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Delayed again

The Safe Schools bill is on hold again, this time until February 2007 when the legislature returns for its winter sitting. Though Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt was hoping to pass his bill in a short fall session, he confirmed with Xtra West Sep 25 that it wasn’t in the cards.

Although his bill will have to be reintroduced come winter, Mayencourt says, “I’ve been working really closely with the premier’s office and [Education Minister] Shirley Bond, so I’m hoping for a speedy passage in February. I believe I’m going to get it.”

The Legislature is now scheduled to reconvene the first week of February. On Feb 19, Bond will introduce a government bill and Mayencourt says he will reintroduce his bill the same day. In the meantime, he is talking to the premier’s and education minister’s offices about adopting the bill or “guaranteeing it speedy passage,” he says.

When Government House Leader Mike de Jong announced on Sep 6 that there might not be a fall session due to a lack of legislative business to deal with, Mayencourt insisted it wasn’t a done deal.

His bill was revised and reintroduced last spring after dying on the order paper when the last election was called. It is one of seven private member’s bills that did not move beyond first reading when the BC legislature rose for the summer on May 18. If the legislature had resumed sitting on Oct 2 as scheduled, it would not have required another reintroduction.

If passed, the Safe Schools Act would require school districts to establish codes of conduct prohibiting actual and perceived discrimination based on, among other things, sexual orientation and gender identity. Without direction from the government, only four of BC’s 60 school districts have voluntarily passed their own anti-homophobia policies.

The legislature must reconvene in February so the government can pass its budget.