Who knew such a simple message, motivated by a mother’s deep love for family, could be so twisted and misconstrued into something controversial?
Maureen Prince, a mother from Medicine Hat, wrote about the inspiration behind the button she created in a blog post, concluding with the following words:
We wish that every child, struggling with any issue, would have the joy of his parent enfolding him in arms of comfort. That together, child and parent could walk the path resolving life’s difficulties. To those children without that, we wish you success and joy as you walk a difficult path.
Life is hard, parents help us navigate it.
And so my friends, this is a love story. The love of parents for their children.
Maureen drove 6 hours from Medicine Hat to Edmonton so she could be recognized yesterday as a guest in the Legislature where her MLA Drew Barnes spoke highly of Maureen’s important work in supporting families in her community (see Hansard for Monday April 11th, page 6).
However, unfortunately we live in a time when caring, respectful and common-sense parents – advocating for the involvement of parents in the lives of their own children – are misrepresented and vilified by both our legislators and the media.
First of all, PC-turned-NDP-MLA Sandra Jansen took to Twitter during Question Period in the Legislature yesterday and made this comment about Maureen Prince’s buttons:
How Sandra Jansen can take a simple message of “Include Parents” and construe it to suggest “outing gay kids” would be laughable if it wasn’t so destructive.
And destructive it has become.
From there, Lori Backman, a former public school board trustee, took it upon herself to troll Maureen’s Facebook page. There she found this post Maureen Prince made a week ago:
Lori Baukman, based on alarmingly poor reading comprehension skills, took to Twitter to reference Maureen’s Facebook post and conclude that Maureen “equates GSAs with residential schools and eugenics”:
One would hope that someone’s random trolling and poor reading of Maureen’s Facebook post from a week ago would be mostly harmless – except for the fact that, for some bizarre reason, the media then picked up on this Lori Backman tweet and made it a centrepiece for their “news”.
This morning an article by CHAT News, Medicine Hat’s local news outlet, appeared with the headline “Local Wildrose president under fire for comparing GSA’s to residential schools”:
After many complaints – including my own – the article headline was changed and then eventually taken down completely.
But that was still not the end of it.
This afternoon CBC reporter Michelle Bellafontaine released an article with the headline “Wildrose constituency president criticized for comparing GSAs to residential schools”.
In the article the CBC reporter even featured comments from the Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman and a residential school survivor who each weighed in on the “controversy”:
“To say that is the same as residential schools where children were stripped from their culture, from their communities, often faced physical assault, sexual assault, loss of language and culture, I think that shows just how out of touch some of the leaders (are) within the Wildrose Party, including this riding association president.” (Sarah Hoffman)
…Prince’s statement drew backlash from commenters on her Facebook post.
“Comparing a GSA to residential schools is despicable,” said Rochelle Knibb. “As the daughter of two survivors, I hope you never know the pain that that period of history has caused families.
The problem is that the entire CBC article, including the above comment from the Deputy Premier, is based on an assumption that isn’t even true!
Where does Maureen Prince ever directly compare GSAs to residential schools?
And an even better question:
Since when does “news” become taking screenshots of unsuspecting citizens and then misrepresenting them in headlines?
As I have watched this evolving “news” through the course of the day, I have become increasingly disturbed.
The whole situation reminds me of a game of “telephone” in elementary school that has gone horribly wrong.
If journalists truly wanted to do a story about the inspiration behind the buttons or Maureen Prince’s specific stance on GSAs, then why wouldn’t they ask her directly instead of assuming and inferring her stance based on a personal Facebook post she happened to make a week ago?
Maureen is a mother who is advocating for the involvement of parents in their children’s lives.
She created some buttons and made the 12 hour return trip between Medicine Hat to Edmonton to bring her message to our legislators and to be honoured for her work.
But instead of being lauded for her support of children and commitment to championing the cause of strong families, she has been smeared in the media for something she never even said.
If journalists are now concerned with reporting on social media posts then why not choose to highlight the ones I have featured in my new video questioning the Education Minister how an education consultant – directly entrusted with the care of K-12 children across Alberta and employed by Alberta Education – uses his social media to mock parents on his Facebook page, post commercials of naked young people who kiss erotically and depict Christians as Nazis?
Or why not highlight the fact that neither MLA Sandra Jansen or University of Alberta professor & “safe and caring” schools expert Dr. Kristopher Wells – both who are all too eager to speak out against certain bullying and discrimination – have yet to publicly denounce association with the person who today tweeted the following reply to both of them specifically advocating for the extermination of an entire swath of conservatives in Alberta:
It is about time that our MLAs and journalists start focusing on the real controversies and stop creating controversies in order to smear parents who just want to be included in their children’s lives.
Here are some contact names and emails if you would like to demand a higher standard of professionalism from those hired by taxpayer dollars in our Legislature and our media. Feel free to cc me at email@example.com to help track the number of total complaints:
Sandra Jansen: firstname.lastname@example.org
CBC Michelle Bellefontaine: michelle.Bellefontaine@cbc.ca
CBC Senior Producer Digital at CBC Edmonton: email@example.com
CBC Managing Editor CBC Edmonton: firstname.lastname@example.org
April 11, 11 p.m. – Maureen Prince also just posted the following comments on the Concerned Parents of School District #76 blog:
Just got back today from a 7 hour back road trip from the Legislature. Juggling 3 children under 5. A crazy trip! So sorry James Wood from CHAT doesn’t understand when I told him I’d get back to him in a day or two. My family obligations are more important than his schedule! There is no way I’m having a conversation in sketchy cell service so that sentences are misinterpreted and misunderstood. Even though my husband called CHAT personally to inform them I was out of communication, they fictionally reported I was avoiding them. This is irresponsible and incompetent. Facts are the hallmark of good journalism. We live in a democracy where the exchange of ideas is supposed to be done with civility. I am happy to respond to competent journalists. Thank you to the many, many people supporting and praying for me and our parents. You are amazing!! Thank you!!