N.B. seeks to intervene in Saskatchewan gender-identity case similar to Policy 713

New Brunswick Attorney General Ted Flemming announced late Friday afternoon that the province is seeking intervener status in Saskatchewan's school gender-identity lawsuit. (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)
New Brunswick Attorney General Ted Flemming announced late Friday afternoon that the province is seeking intervener status in Saskatchewan's school gender-identity lawsuit. (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)

New Brunswick's Attorney General says the province is seeking to be an intervener in Saskatchewan's school gender-identity policy case as it heads to court.

The case, currently before the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, is already being supported by Alberta as an intervener.

In a brief statement, posted around 4 p.m. Friday, New Brunswick Attorney General Ted Flemming said he had sent a letter to the Saskatchewan court that the province is seeking to intervene by the July deadline.

"We believe in the principles of law. This is a constitutional issue about whether the notwithstanding clause is the final word when a legislature invokes it," Flemming said in the statement.

"We believe that legislative assemblies have the right to make laws that are important to the people of their province, and that they have the right to protect those laws through the use of the notwithstanding clause, if necessary."

Saskatchewan's Parents' Bill of Rights became law in October. It's protected by Section 33 of the Constitution, also known as the notwithstanding clause — a tool that allows provinces to override some human rights.

But in February, a judge decided that a lawsuit by UR Pride, a 2SLGBTQ+ group from the University of Regina, could proceed despite the notwithstanding clause.

The Saskatchewan government says it's appealing the decision to allow the challenge — essentially trying to block it. That province is now joined by the governments of both Alberta and New Brunswick in that appeal.

New Brunswick's own school gender-identity policy, Policy 713, was revised last summer to require parents to consent if children under 16 want to adopt a new name or pronoun at school to reflect their gender identity.

Those changes are now facing two court challenges alleging they violate constitutional rights.

New Brunswick's gender-identity policy came out in June 2023 and Saskatchewan's was created in October. Evidence shows that New Brunswick's policy influenced Saskatchewan's.

A freedom of information request revealed that the government of Saskatchewan only received 18 letters from concerned citizens — 16 of which explicitly called for a policy similar to New Brunswick's.