The Saskatchewan Party has taken an important first step in the fight against bullying in this province.
Among other promises in its Speech from the Throne, the government declared it will “respond to anti-bullying recommendations” based on consultations held with students, parents and teachers, and host a forum during National Anti-Bullying Week in November “to discuss … bullying and its prevention” with students.
Bullying is fast becoming a major issue in the education portfolio. It has been made so by the recent proliferation of suicides and attempted suicides across the country — Jamie Hubley, Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons and Todd Loik — which all stand as testaments to that fact.
In Nova Scotia, legislation has been put in place to allow complainants to sue alleged cyber-bullies. In Ontario, the Accepting Schools Act was passed in 2012 — an act cracking down on rapes, gender-based violence and homophobia.
To suggest that it is past time for Saskatchewan to do the same — especially after North Battleford’s Todd Loik’s alleged motivation for suicide was the bullying he had endured — is more than fair.
But the Sask. Party government has to get moving on this legislation immediately.
In an interview with the Times-Herald following the Throne Speech, Cam Broten, the leader of the Saskatchewan NDP, said he was disappointed the government hasn’t already taken action on bullying.
“We need action that is faster,” he said. “There’s no reason why the report that is due can’t be released now.
“The meetings have occurred. And in the Throne Speech, there was talk of a conference being planned. A conference is fine, but this government can’t use it as a means to stall any action.”
Broten is right.
There’s no doubt bullying is real and it’s getting worse. There’s no doubt that governments need to draft legislation to help curb the problem.
The question isn’t whether it should be done, the question is when. The answer to that question is better sooner than later.
Justin Crann can be reached at 306-691-1265 or follow him on Twitter @J_Crann.