OPINION – Albertans should be the boss, not politicians – the Wildrose Party

Mark Smith
Wildrose Party MLA
for Drayton Valley-Devon

That was the premise behind Bill 201 the Election Recall Act that was introduced in the Legislature this spring. It collected 11,000 signatures in just over the weeks in an online petition.

Sadly, PC and NDP MLAs joined together to vote against Albertans who support recall and strengthening democracy. All Wildrose MLAs voted in support. Bill 201 would have restored power directly back into the hands of Albertans and put the service back into public service.

Here’s how our proposal would have worked. For a petition to be successful, volunteers would have 60 days to collect physical signatures in a given riding totaling 66 per cent of the ballots cast in the most recent election.
To prevent frivolous or politically-charged attempts, petitions would require a $5,000 processing fee and could only begin 18 months after a general election. These measures came from extensive consultations with Albertans and feedback from MLAs stemming from my colleague Leela Aheer’s Recall Act proposal last fall, and were chosen specifically to address concerns that recall could be disruptive or somehow undemocratic.

Still, MLAs from other parties repeated the same unfounded concerns. Apparently oblivious to the optics of MLAs protecting their jobs against the wishes of their own constituents, PC and NDP MLAs simply voted it down at their first opportunity rather than offer amendments.

This sends the wrong message to Albertans who want to strengthen democracy. For the past several years, Albertans have watched politicians in Edmonton steadily erode their trust. There have been Sky Palaces, broken promises and unethical behaviour with MLAs able to ride out criticism and collect a paycheque until the next election.

This isn’t right.

Recall would make our government more accountable to Albertans and ensure MLAs have more freedom to stand up for their communities’ best interests. Albertans are clearly asking what tools can be used to make sure that all MLAs are held accountable in-between election periods. Recall could have been one of those tools, but too many MLAs voted for the status quo.

Despite this setback, there are still ways for Albertans to support this initiative. First, go to supportrecall.ca, where you can sign your support for recall legislation here in Alberta.

With growing numbers and support, Albertans can continue to pressure the government to act on this important initiative. Second, write your MLA and personally ask for their commitment to support MLA recall by the time of the next election.

The fact is, Albertans are far ahead of politicians demanding greater accountability and improved democracy from their politicians. With large enough numbers of support, we can make sure the MLAs who refused to support the Election Recall Act start listening.

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