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Premier Prentice mum on political strategy after shelving Bill 10

CALGARY- A day after he shelved controversial Bill 10, Premier Jim Prentice wasn’t saying much about gay-straight alliances in Alberta schools.

He was asked about it at the McDougall Centre Friday where he kicked off the government Christmas light display.

In his first public appearance in Calgary since the legislation was temporarily punted late Thursday, Premier Prentice was still keeping his political strategy under wraps.

As Prentice flipped the switch on the Christmas display at McDougall Centre, he was not shedding any light on what’s next for Bill 10.

“I said yesterday, that I was not going to be specific at this point in terms of exactly what steps will be taken, but there will be consultations with Albertans,” said Prentice.

“We’ll hear more about people’s point of view. People’s rights are important. I hear that loud and clearly.”

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The legislature adjourned and did not give a third reading to the bill, after push back from the opposition and supporters of gay straight alliances.

Prentice personally intervened and postponed the bill pending further consultation with Albertans.

Pollsters say the premier and his government suffered significant political damage but can limit the downside.

“It’s one mistake. I think there’s redemption in politics, it’s not such a big mistake he can’t come back from it provided that he readdresses this in the new year in a more thoughtful way that matches more closely with Alberta social values,” pollster Janet Brown said.

GSA supporters and the opposition promise to keep pressure on the Prentice government and will participate in the premier’s consultation process but the premier hasn’t provided any details on when or how that discussion will roll out.

“Is it a roving show with public hearings around the province? Are there going to be town halls? Are there going to be submissions or is it simply consulting with lawyers in the justice department about how they can craft a charter proof law? We don’t know these things but there are options,” said Duane Bratt, a political analyst from Mount Royal University.

Prentice is now reviewing those options, promising to provide details on the consultation process before Christmas.

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For now, the premier and his government have bought some breathing room on Bill 10.

When the issue is dealt with again early next year, it could provide an opportunity for the premier to, in his own words, ‘get this right.’

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