The issue of “Conscience Rights” has come up in the Alberta Election campaign, and I for one think this is a very good thing. Why? Because it draws a distinct line between those who support individual freedom, and those who support groupthink.
Only Wildrose and leader Danielle Smith have spoken out in favour of letting doctors and marriage commissioners exercise their right of conscience (which is guaranteed in the Constitution Act of 1967, by the way). Both Alison Redford of the PCs and Raj Sherman of the Liberals have come out against this constitutionally guaranteed right.
Here is a question for both Redford and Sherman – would you oppose the rights of non-government paid/regulated persons to have this right? Would you mandate that Mosques must respect Catholic holidays? That Catholic Churchs conduct same-sex marriages? Or does this only apply when the state is paying people, like the doctors and marriage commissioners?
If an individual doctor wants to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right, but the patient can obtain the service from another doctor who does not have those moral issues, then the patient has not suffered any discrimination from the state. The service was provided. Similarly with marriage commissioners or pharmacists.