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B.C. education minister responds to recall petition over SOGI

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B.C.’s Education Minister, Rachna Singh, was at a ground-breaking announcement Monday for a new Cedar Hill Middle School when she responded to the recall petition launched last week to remove her as an MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers.

“Right now my focus is on the things that matter to our communities—whether it’s Surrey or anywhere in British Columbia—to provide safe, inclusive spaces,” said Singh.

The petition comes after various heated rallies across B.C. and the country, when supporters of SOGI and its opponents clashed in public protests.

SOGI 123 is an educational resource meant to help educators foster a safe and inclusive environment in schools for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

“For a long time it was just a Fraser Valley thing. I guess this is the power of social media, as well as media from the Untied States,” said Hamish Telford, a political scientist at University of the Fraser Valley.

The petition alleges the SOGI program is indoctrinating children and exposing them to sexually inappropriate material. The petition’s spokesperson, Amrit Birring, ran unsuccessfully for the People's Party of Canada federally and for Surrey mayor in the last election. He's been involved in various anti-SOGI rallies at schools, and posted a message online about the petition that included him saying, “We just took a piece of this tyrannical government from them—there’s nothing more scary for them—and removing actually a piece of their government.”

Singh responded to the claims SOGI indoctrinates kids. “It’s sad to hear all the misinformation, disinformation out there. I’m committed to providing safe and inclusive schools,” she said. “We know if students are getting those safe environments, their learning outcomes are much better.”

In order to succeed, the petition needs at least 40 per cent of eligible voters from the Surrey-Green Timbers riding—that’s 11,811 names.

It’s the 30th time a petition to remove an MLA has been issued. None have succeeded, and only five have made it to the vote verification stage.

“I don’t think that this is an appropriate use of the recall petition—a minister simply doing her job implementing government policy,” said Telford, who said the issue is better suited for an election.

The petition has until the end of January to amass enough names. If it does, Singh would be removed as MLA and there would be a by-election in which she could run.

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