Alberta has a rich and proud history of producing great men and women to champion the democratic causes of voting rights for women, senate reform, government accountability and provincial rights. Disappointingly, the PC Government has failed to show leadership on democratic issues in recent years.
Politics in our province has evolved into a process that is largely undemocratic. There are no free votes in the Legislature. Government MLAs are expected to tow the party line without question. The Premier and a small group of mostly unelected appointees make almost every decision in government. The people’s elected representatives, on the other hand, generally have little if any real input into the decisions that impact the lives of those who voted for them.
This democratic deficit is compounded by a lack of transparency and accountability in government. Government documents are difficult and expensive to publicly access; Cabinet sets its salaries behind closed doors; billion dollar government contracts are awarded without tender (i.e. Bill 50); approval for infrastructure projects is often politicized; budget deficits and other important financial information is underreported (including MLA expenses); and a culture of fear and intimidation keeps potential whistleblowers from stepping forward.
Predictably, this lack of democracy and transparency has resulted in poor government policies, low voter turnout, almost universal cynicism towards elected officials and a feeling that the average Albertan has no voice or influence on issues that affect them personally.
- Restore the role of elected MLAs by mandating that all votes in the Legislature and caucus be free and reported to the public
- Non-confidence votes would be held as separate and stand-alone votes, allowing MLAs to vote on proposed legislation based on the interests of their constituents
- Implement legislation allowing for citizen-initiated referenda and voter recall (support thresholds to instigate both processes must be sufficiently high to eliminate frivolous initiatives)
- Institute fixed dates for general elections, senate elections, budgets, legislative sessions, and Speeches from the Throne
- Introduce whistleblower protection for all government-paid employees and professionals including health care workers
- Provide easier and more affordable public access to Freedom of Information requests for all government operations include Crown corporations and government investments
- Require a reverse onus proof forcing the government to prove to the Privacy Commissioner that information requested by the media or public should not be released before any FOIPP request is denied
- Establish an independent Cabinet and MLA pay and benefits review process that prevents the Premier, Cabinet, and MLAs from setting their own salaries
- Strengthen the offices of the Ethics Commissioner and the Auditor General
- Create transparency in finances and budgets by ensuring government debts and cash deficits are reported accurately and in a timely manner
- Mandate public disclosure of the government’s priority list and rationale for all infrastructure projects and maintenance
- Post MLA expenses online
- Guarantee open tendering and bidding process on all major government-sanctioned and approved procurement contracts
- Support the important role of opposition parties by increasing opposition research and communications funding, strengthen opposition parties’ role in forming government policy and legislation, grant greater opposition access to departmental documents, and dramatically increase the amount of time available for questioning the Premier and Minister on their areas of stewardship
- Overhaul rules governing the Legislative Assembly to reduce partisanship, ensure fairness and impartiality by the Speaker’s Office, and improve decorum in the House