Letter – Principles worth protecting

The municipal elections that will occur later this year [Oct. 18] present you and your neighbours with a golden opportunity to discuss the future of your municipality amongst yourselves and with your local candidates.

It is an ideal time to determine how municipal decisions and infrastructure:

  • support your family;
  • enhance your personal well-being;
  • support your business;
  • improve your community.

Unfortunately, there is a risk that important local issues will be overshadowed by provincial referendums and senate elections.

Another risk is that recent changes made by the provincial government to loosen local campaign financing and advertising rules will enable “big money” and partisan groups to have a louder voice than regular Albertans.

These risks are compounded by a third – the risk that Albertans interested in serving their community will not put their name forward as candidates due to the increasingly unpleasant nature of political discourse.

The Alberta Urban Municipality Association [AUMA] introduced the Local Democracy Pledge [aka The Pledge] earlier this year to improve the quality and tone of political discourse in the run-up to Alberta’s municipal elections. It is a set of four key principles AUMA’s members believe are vital to preserving democracy in municipal elections.

The Pledge is a voluntary commitment a candidate can make to support democratic local elections as they carry out their campaigns to:

  • keep local elections local by focusing their campaigns on issues that municipal elected officials can influence;
  • maintain independence and non-partisanship by rejecting any endorsements which would undermine their accountability to municipal residents or the autonomy of the municipality;
  • demonstrate transparency by sharing their vision for the municipality and providing pre-election disclosure of campaign contributions and spending;
  • engage in respectful behaviour by sharing their perspective, while respecting and seeking to understand differences.

The AUMA’s 263 municipal members believe in these principles, and we know nearly all Albertans value them, too. So, when candidates stop by your home later this year and ask if they can count on your vote, ask them if they have taken The Pledge. If they say they have never heard of it, encourage them to learn more by going to www.auma.ca/pledge

Together, we can help protect Alberta’s long-standing and cherished democratic principles from erosion and damage.

Barry Morishita,
President, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association

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