In mid October the Alberta PC party will elect a successor to Peter Lougheed.  Three man have announced their candidacy to succeed as leader of the party and as premier of the province.  Don Getty and Julian Koziak of Edmonton and Ron Ghitter of Galgary.  Of the three, only Julian Koziak is currently a member of the Legislature.

He is minister of Municipal Affairs and a former Minister of Education.  Koziak has acknowledged himself publicly in previous elections as pro-life.

Don Getty, has been out of politics for a number of years.  Earlier he was Minister of Energy and a close collaborator of Premier Lougheed.  He shares many of the Premier’s interests and is generally seen as being the closest to the Lougheed image.

The candidate stirring most interest is Calgary lawyer Ron Ghitter.  He is also likely to be hostile to the pro-live cause.  A two-time MLA, who resigned in 1979 to resume his law practice, Ghitter achieved much publicity as chairman of the Committee on Tolerance and Understanding.

The Committee was created by the Alberta government in the summer of 1983, in response to the Keegstra affair in Eckville.  At the time, the prime target of its examination was supposed to be the public school system.  After all, Keegstra had used his position as social studies teacher in the Eckville public school to instill the anti-Semitism for which he has become known throughout the country.  Yet, as the Committee progressed during its 18 months of hearing (450-500 submissions), its chairman Ron Ghitter (who delivered some 125 speeches), focused more and more on Alberta’s religiously-oriented private schools (126 authorized and some 30-40 unauthorized schools).

The committee’s first report in May 1984 – later called discussion paper after mounting criticism – recommended the takeover of the private schools by a public school board.  The general premise for this recommendation – withdrawn by the time the final report appeared in December 1984 – seemed to be the general premise that a firm religious faith is to be equated with bigotry, a point of view with which many Canadian’s have become familiar since the secularizing trends of the sixties.

Leadership candidate Ghitter, a Calgary lawyer, is Jewish by descent but agnostic by “religion”.  His wife Jackie whom he married in 1975 has a Baptist mother and a Mormon father but is herself described by her husband as “humanistic.”

(Calgary Herald, October 18, 1984,).

Both husband and wife are “futurists,” that is deeply concerned with planning the shape of future society.  Needless to say, religion plays no role in this planning.  Apparently, Ghitter is convinced that in the Canadian society of the future “anachronisms” like religion in schools will be left behind.  He admits having personal difficulty with absolute values.

Ghitter’s performance as chairman of the Committee on Tolerance and Understanding has encouraged other secularists to become more aggressive.  It has led to the formation of a group in Calgary (Save Public Education) which has initiated a campaign for a unified secular school system, in which not only the partially funded private school but also the fully publicly funded Catholic school system is supposed to be absorbed.

With regard to abortion and the rights of the unborn, Mr. Ghitter claims to have no position (July 31, 1985).  As any citizen knows, when someone claims to have no position when a particular human right is under attack.  He must be counted among the opponents, not the defenders, of the right.