Monday, April 9, 2012

Personal Thoughts Affecting the Job?

This seems to be coming up a lot lately, especially with the Alberta election looming. Talk of Wildrose wanting to support a person's fundamental right to freedom of thought, and it's possible repercussions in things such as a Marriage Commissioner refusing to marry a same-sex couple because the commissioner does not agree with that, or a doctor refusing to prescribe birth control pills based on his/her own religious beliefs, etc. Wildrose says that it wants to change how the Human Rights Commission of Alberta is running, by making it a division under the law instead of just seeming to float by itself. But the talk about conscience of thought has made headlines such as the PC leader saying it's scary or that she is fearful of what this could mean....

I thought long and hard about it and looked into all sorts of government rights and laws before making my decision. First off, with Marriage Commissioners, this is an appt by the province. A person has to apply and get approved and can hold the appointment for 5 years. I think that a marriage commissioner should then be agreeing to marry anyone that comes to them,  of course the law is the law and gay couples can legally be married now, so if you don't want to do that - don't bother applying. However, I can see where this could get muddy.

If the govt succeeds in compelling one person to go against their conscience, or against their personal beliefs and thoughts, and do something they do not agree with, then they can surely start compelling others as well. Where does it stop? Where is the line drawn? The birth control pills issue with doctors brought up another question - could doctors who do not agree with abortion (or do not agree with it at certain stages of pregnancy) be forced to perform them? If one doctor is forced to prescribe something he does not agree with because people say it's his 'job' to respect his patient's wishes, then surely another doctor could be forced to perform abortions because it is his 'job' to respect his patient's wishes. I think people need to be very careful where the path they want to follow is going.

I have also read about doctors being 'public servants' and that they should therefore be forced to comply with the birth control issue (hmm then the abortion issue?) - but a doctor isnt really a public servant. They serve the public, but that is different. So does a clerk at safeway - he/she serves the public too. A doctor is not a public/civil servant. If you go to the govt website and look that up, doctors, nurses, teachers, etc are NOT listed as public servants. So I think a lot of people are confused about that. People working in a grocery store (where people need to purchase food or they might DIE without it) can refuse service to someone who is not wearing a shirt or shoes, but a doctor cannot refuse to hand out an actual medication that has a mile-long list of side effects and wars with their religious beliefs?

Already, if my doctor does not want to prescribe me a medication I am asking for (various reasons perhaps such as side effects, does not believe I have the condition the medication is for, etc), the doc does not have to give it to me. I can try going to another doctor to get them to listen to me, but my own doc is not forced to comply. Birth control is a medication. It has side effects. It has specific uses. A doctor may not want to prescribe birth control due to personal religious reasons, but then perhaps the person should go find another doctor that will? I dont know that Doc should be forced to because then I think that opens the doors for other issues such as abortion as I mentioned earlier, or perhaps patients demanding other things such as pain killers. Maybe my doc would not believe I am in as much pain as I say and do not need to have Percocet even though I am asking him over and over - that would be his PERSONAL judgement call, would it not? Should he be forced to give it to me, just like the doc who for PERSONAL reasons does not want to prescribe birth control but should be forced, according to many? I dont think that is a good direction to go in.

I have also been reading about a Wildrose candidate in either Calgary or Edmonton who has apparently written some rather scathing anti-gay posts in the past - for his church paper perhaps? I cannot recall. At any rate, I have seen many people over the past couple of days asking for friends to re-think voting for wildrose because of the beliefs of this one dude. Well - here is my question - those may be his personal beliefs, but does he plan to LEGISLATE on them? There is a whole world of difference between personal deep down thoughts (religious or otherwise) and the actions one takes when in a government position.

For example, there are video tapes of Obama saying in the not-so-distant past that he believes that gay marriage should NOT be legal, but they could do a civil ceremony. Congressman Ron Paul states that he personally believes marriage should be between a single man and a single woman, but that he would not be legislating on it because he does not believe that the government should be so involved in marriage - demanding licensing, dictating wording and rules of the ceremonies, etc. So there are two high profile government men in the US who have both said that personally, they do not believe that marriage could be between two gay people, or that it should be Legally recognized by the govt, but it is not stopping them for either legislating to have gay marriage legal across the board, or legislate on it at all. So if I was in this Wildrose candidate's constituency, I would be phoning and saying 'hey man, I read some really strong anti-gay posts by you and I want to know what you plan to do on that issue in the government, if anything''. And if I did not like his answer or found that he was still speaking that way in public, I would be calling the Wildrose head party office and filing a complaint. I would not be suggesting that all Wildrose people are scary gay-haters and that people should beware if voting for them. That does not solve anything.

This guy used to be a PC candidate until he was fired, apparently. That means though that all the time he was a PCer, he had those same thoughts and beliefs in his mind. Did he act on them? What was his voting record like? Does he have those personal thoughts but does not try to get bills passed to block gay marriage or anything of the sort? That's what I would be looking at. We have no idea what the REAL personal thoughts and beliefs are of people in govt positions unless they exercise their right to free speech and tell us. Nor can we control another person's thoughts or beliefs.

What it comes down to for me is what the party believes the role of Government should be. What do they plan for future spending and taxes? How much do they check the Charter Of Rights and Freedoms before making decisions? Etc.

In my job, I might think that people who receive subsidy and still cannot pay their measly $94 on time should be reported to the Prov and Fed govt for abusing the system, but that is my personal thought and I do not let it affect my job. My job is to make sure the children in my care are safe, secure, happy, and having fun while learning. That is my job. I have a zillion personal thoughts about how the system is run, the mess that it is turning into, the govt regulations that drive me crazy, the parents that are so demanding I think they should just stay home with their kid and raise them themselves instead of dictating it to us, and so on. But that is not my job. I can try to change things behind the scenes if I wish - such as writing to my MLA and the head of Human Services and Accreditation for my thoughts on the matter. But it does not affect how I do my actual job because I won't let it. If I have a child who's parent is ridiculous - I don't take it out on the child, it's not their fault. This happens in all sorts of jobs across the board - what you think in your head is not always what your actions show at work - so if a govt official has personal beliefs that do not match mine, I wait to see if it affects their work or not. If it does - bye bye. Im not dealing with you anymore.

Of course, I do not run around publicly posting my thoughts unless I do it anonymously like in this blog - whereas the Wildrose candidate has done the opposite. But that does not mean outright that he cannot do his JOB. It cannot be assumed that he would legislate against gay rights - if it did though, then he is NOT doing his job properly and is letting personal issues get in the way. Then the people of his constituency or party should decide what to do about it. If it becomes a human rights issue then he should be dealt with through that manner as well.

But back to doctors - if their job is to provide care, yet they can say 'no' to taking more patients or 'no' to performing certain duties or prescribing certain meds, then why is it a big deal if they say 'no' to prescribing birth control? Or abortion? There is talk often of the Hippocratic Oath because one line states that a physician should renounce self-interest in the treatment of patients, but as seen here at the Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, that wars with the beginning of 'to protect all life' and the 'sanctity of life', when it comes to matters such as abortion. If the doctor believes that abortions should not be done after a certain stage because he/she believes this is a human life, then how is the doctor protecting all life? Should he/she be forced to perform it if he is an OBGYN or other such specialist/surgeon? I think we are treading dangerous waters if we start compelling doctors to perform certain duties that are against their personal beliefs. Apparently in Canada, a person is not legally considered a person until they have exited the birth canal alive - but there are many who fight against this like for cases where a heavily pregnant woman is murdered. There are many that want separate charges available - one for the killing of the woman, and one for the killing of the fetus. But there are many against that as well - saying that it takes away the woman's rights if abortion goes back on the table as an issue again. Around and around we go. But in polls I searched online dated in the last decade, more than 72% of Canadians thought that the death of a fetus due to the murder of it's mother SHOULD result in a second murder charge.These are two separate issues in my mind, because in one the mother wants the fetus to be terminated and in the other the mother had no choice due to a physical attack - but it's the government who is in charge of all of the above despite what the people say and somehow they cannot agree on the wording of the Unborn Victims' Bill. I have read no-end of media against the bill, stating that it could put abortion back on the list of being a criminal activity - yet it seems like a no-brainer to me to state that if the mother did not wish for harm to come to her fetus and was attacked, causing the death of the fetus, separate charges can be brought about. Like seriously - how hard is THAT? But pro-choice activists came out in droves against the bill, despite as I said earlier, 72% of Canadians believing otherwise. Who works for the people these days? Any one?

As the parent of a premature infant born 2 months early, I would hate to think that I could be injured by someone in an attack, and my 'fetus' could die, but no charges would be brought upon them for that act. Only for physically assaulting ME. What about my child who could have been due in a day? Does that fetus have no justice? Not in Canada.

So I can see from a legal standpoint how there are many who think more doctors should be forced to perform abortions (because it's their job to respect their patient's wishes, and because there is a problem with lack of access here - many cities do not have a single doctor who will perform one at any stage let alone late term, and the patient must travel several hours after getting referred elsewhere) - but it's a messy business. How many doctors may decide to close their practice completely because they physically and mentally cannot bring themselves to terminate a pregnancy in the third trimester? that is legal in canada by the way - there is no limit - but you have to find a doctor willing to do it, which can be tough when you are far long or often anything past the first trimester. I think if I was a specialist and suddenly forced to perform a certain number of abortions each year in my city, to make it easier on the patients and respect their wishes, I would close up shop. There is no way on this planet that I could stick tongs up a woman's birth canal and kill a 30 week fetus and pull it out and crush it's skull and throw it away. NO way I would ever do that. So I would leave and move somewhere that doesnt force me, or train for a different specialty and take my name off the OBGYN list, etc. What good would that bring the province if they forced me to do that? 2000 or so patients would lose their doctor and the whole region would lose a specialist. I think they need to tread very carefully here.

It's all a mess and there is no easy answer. the Wildrose party refers to the Charter on this matter, which states:

1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Fundamental freedoms
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.

15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
So how does all of this work together in such matters? As stated at the start, I think if a Marriage Commissioner applies for an appt for the position and it's granted, they should perform any marriage that is considered legal in Canada/Alberta. If the people have a license, they shall be married. But if that moves over onto those in religious sectors that also have to apply for certain clergy to be allowed to perform ceremonies, I think the water gets muddied a little. How I deal with that is on a personal level - I just stated 2 days ago to a gay couple that if I were them, I would not want someone performing my ceremony that did not believe in what I was doing. How romantic could it possibly be if the person reading the vows to you hated what you were and did not want to be there?? I would rather not force ANYONE to comply, based on that issue alone. And it is all dealt with at a personal level, without the government. If I phoned up a marriage commissioner from the provincial list and asked them to perform my ceremony and they said 'no' after finding out I wanted to marry another woman, then I would be GLAD that I learned that about them and move onto the next name as fast as lightning. I would only want someone to perform my ceremony that did not care and supported us as a couple. And if it got around to my friends and family that a certain person would not do it because they didn't 'believe' in it, then I can guarantee word would travel fast and a lot of people would not be calling that marriage commissioner even if they were straight couples - so there ya have it. Despite the legal mumbo jumbo of rights and freedoms - it can be dealt with on a personal level first and foremost. If the govt however forced people, I would have to wonder if the commissioner standing there was thinking 'this is sinful, this is an abomination, this is not right' throughout the whole ceremony. I for one would not want that to happen. I don't know why anyone else does!

Perhaps this all could be dealt with by the govt adding one line to it's application for MC - 'do you agree to perform, without malice or infusion of self-interest, ANY marriage that is deemed legal in Canada'. Tada. All done. If they don't check 'yes' to that line, they cannot be appointed as an MC. If they do click Yes and then refuse to perform certain ceremonies due to self beliefs, then poof, their MC status is gone. It really does sound easy -- so why not do that? I read the application form from the Alberta govt website yesterday and it does not say anything like that on it. Perhaps after initial approval there is some sort of oath, but why go that far? Why not have it right on the application in the first place?


  1. Ya they could ask, say a guy who wears a turban,
    right on the application, are you willing to perform your duties no-matter what kind of hat we demand you wear. (no sarcasm intended)
    Isn't that similar to what your proposing?

    I don't mean to be condescending but...
    Equality of opportunity is the goal we should be striving for.
    Not equality of outcome.
    Why can't half the marriage commissioners have religious convictions and the other half not?
    If a gay couple want to get married, send them to the NOT religious commissioner, why is that a problem.
    Your reasoning would deny that turban wearer a job working for the rcmp.
    No-one should be denied a job because of religious beliefs...period.
    It's a slipery slope and will lead to many more "justifiable" reasons to discriminate.
    Accomodate the employee, and the customer.
    It's called providing a service regardless of ones religion, status, health, race, orientation, whatever..!
    Why should anyone have to agree to Government political correctness to get a government job?

  2. Thank you for the reply. That was just one idea I came up with near the end of my post. My original response to a gay couple discussing this matter was what I said above, that the WR party is attempting to follow the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and people's fundamental 'freedom of thought and expression' while dealing with this issue. And I agree with that. But adding a line to the application was an idea I came up with at the end because as it currently stands, gay marriage is perfectly legal in Canada and has been for awhile, so it's not like any new appointees do not know this. Why bother applying for an appointment in the first place if one is so against it? And it is not a career choice and therefore not comparable with an RCMP job because it is only to last 5 years. The marriage commissioners I know have other jobs and this is just something they do on the side because they wanted to do it and thought it would be interesting.

    As for the religious reasons - first off, one does not have to be religious to disagree with gay marriage. I don't know why so many people assume that. Maybe a great many of those who speak out against gay marriage are from some form of religion - but there are many who are not and just simply think it is unnatural for humans to engage in that activity. I do not agree with either of those groups of people, but I am not going to try to push my views on them, and I don't expect them to push their views on me. They can talk about it, and I will choose not to listen. As it should be.

    However, in the case of Marriage Commissioners, I think it can get murky. There is a whole other application for those who are applying with a religious affiliation so it's not like someone could be 'denied a job because of religious beliefs'. They can fill out application number 2 which is actually TITLED about religion.

    As for a turban and RCMP - I am not educated in all of the details to do with that issue. However, I do know many other people who were denied a particular job based on other things. Such as my ex husband joining the military and wishing to be infantry - but he could not because he is color blind. He could not be in the airforce sector either because of that. Or a woman we had apply for a casual spot at my job recently who stated on her application that she is not allowed to lift over 5lbs because of a recurring back problem. We told her that it would not be possible to hire her because of this, and she complained to Community Employment Services because of it (they had sent her to us). My boss and the CES head got into a very heated argument about it because she tried to say we were discriminating against a disability. My boss explained that we work with people's CHILDREN all day and cannot have someone working with us that would not be allowed to save a child who was falling down the stairs or off playground equipment, or simply tripped over their shoe and was heading for a shelving unit with their forehead. In the end my boss said "I will give you the phone numbers of all our parents and YOU ask them if they want someone working with their child who cannot actually pick them up or grab hold of them if necessary". The CES woman hung up after that and has not called back. An employer can be accused of discrimination left and right, you are correct... but in this case of marriage commissioners - who is the actual employer? The govt? Or the people getting married? Actually that would be BOTH because the people pay for the marriage commissioner both directly through the fee and indirectly through taxes.
    But regardless, if the law states that gay couples can get married, why go for a short term appointment when you disagree with that law? Why not do it through the religious route and work with a church that does not allow gay marriage within it's walls?

  3. But I happened to note a discrepancy in your reply - you stated that no one should be denied a job because of religious beliefs, and then right after that stated that it is providing a service regardless of ones religion, status, health, race, orientation, whatever... EXACTLY! That can easily go both ways - hiring someone regardless of these aspects, or providing a service REGARDLESS of these aspects. So in that format, why should a gay couple be denied a service based on their orientation from someone who wishes to call upon their religious afflictions and cried out that they should not be denied an appointment because of those religious beliefs? That does not make sense to me. Crying out that it is discrimination, and then discriminating against someone else immediately afterward. That is rather confusing.

    I will reiterate that I think I would rather KNOW if a person actually supported my marriage or not, so I would rather not force people to comply. But I dont understand why someone would choose to apply for a position that may put them into a situation they dont want to be in. Like if I actually disliked children, why would I bother applying at a daycare? Or really in this case, it is not a JOB to be a marriage commissioner. It is a temporary appt that you get little money for. Marriage commissioners in Alberta are NOT salaried employees and they do not receive subsidies. They only get the rate that they charge and that's it. Some may charge more or less depending on the kind of ceremony (length, location, etc) and how much is expected of them (rehearsal dinner, meeting at various prospective locations, etc). That's it. Some choose to stay at the wedding afterward, and some leave, depending on everyone's wishes for the event. It's not a 'job'. The last time I helped set up a wedding, it was a huge one and the commissioner charged $300 total but that included 2 meetings, a location meeting, a rehearsal dinner, and a 1.5 hour long ceremony. 4 different times and dates, travel involved, and $300. Unless the dude was running 5 weddings a week, he was not making that much money. That is why I do not think it is comparable to anyone being denied a 'job' based on religious reasons.

  4. Another addition - did you know that while Alison Redford is having a coronary about Danielle's Smith's views on this, one of her own PC candidates tried to introduce Bill 208 back around 2006 that was THE SAME FRICKEN THING? Except he outright stated in the bill that marriage commissioners should not be forced to marry same-sex couples if it was against their beliefs. Danielle Smith talked about it in an interview when asked directly, but it is not in writing and not in a bill. Ted Morton tried this. He is a current candidate for the PCs

    and information on the bill is found here



These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).