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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

photo post: wildrose alliance floor-crossers.

I attended the Wildrose Alliance media conference today at the Alberta Legislature. At the conference, leader Danielle Smith and MLAs Paul Hinman, Heather Forsyth, and Rob Anderson took some questions. Recall was their big issue. I am not the biggest fan of recall. While they could be more vigourous and competitive, I believe that this is the reason why we have elections every four to five years. Sometimes our elected officials are just plain bad at their jobs and sometimes they have to make really tough (and unpopular) decisions. It is easy to confuse the two. Recall focuses on the negative, rather than recognizing the positive role that our elected officials can play in our communities.

Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle SmithWildrose Alliance MLAs
Wildrose Alliance MLAsWildrose Alliance MLAs
Wildrose Alliance MLAsWildrose Alliance MLAs
Also, If you are looking for a thoughtful read, Duncan Wojtaszek was written an excellent blog post on the topic of floor-crossing.


Anonymous said...

interesting thing about these pictures is that Rob Anderson looks an awful lot like Jean Chretien with that crooked smile...I now hold them both in similar regard.

Anonymous said...

Idiotic populist pandering. This is a recipe for creating short term political crises when well-organized special interests raise a ruckus over an unpopular (but possibly principled) stance taken by an MLA. Vote the bastards out in the next election and repeal the legislation if you don't like what they've done. But at least consider their record as a whole, and with a modicum of detached reflection. And for crying out loud, don't INCREASE the amount of short term political thinking and cynical electoral maneuvering that goes on in the Legislature.

Imagine if one party had a slim majority of seats (or a slim plurality, for that matter). Swing ridings would be awash with party operatives collecting signatures, trying to steal a seat from their competition.

If they really want to innovate, what they should advocate is the separation of the executive branch from the legislative branch, with a separately elected Premier of Alberta. That would give non-cabinet MLAs some real power. Maybe Rob Anderson could put his extensive constitutional law knowledge to use to try to find a way to make that one work. (Oh, and Rob: do you really think that a law school award and "The Independent" are noteworthy enough to include in your MLA bio?)

Also, can someone please explain to me what the Wildrose Alliance stands for? Because right now, it seems a lot like the We're The Tories Who Are Pissed Off That Ed Stelmach Is Our Leader Party. Or is the Wildrose Alliance now the One Press Conference With One Bullet Point Every Day Until the Election Party?

Anonymous said...

I do so love that Heather Forsyth is critical of the Stelmach government's cost-cutting even though she was there when Ralph did it.

Darren said...

All Recall will do will reduce voter interest during actual elections (because Recall gives them a Mulligan anytime during the term) and make it more difficult for MLAs to choose to make tough, less popular decisions over politically popular but wrong decisions.

Scott Hennig said...

Fact check time:

Claim: slim majorities leading to constant recall votes. Reality: BC NDP had a 6 seat majority from 96-01 and there was 1 successful recall at the time and it was a Liberal MLA who was exposed for writing letters to the editor under false names - and then was replaced by another Liberal MLA.

Claim: recall will reduce voter interest during elections because they can just simply recall their MLA as they see fit. Reality: in 20 attempts in 15 years in BC, it has only resulted in 1 successful recall. Plus, in Alberta voter turn out has been dropping without recall. In the US in 117 attempts to recall Governors since 1921, it has only been successful twice.

A 5% and 1.7% success rate respectively would suggest that in fact, it's quite difficult to actually recall a politician.

Anonymous said...

Scott needs to check his facts. In a 4 party system as we have now you could win the election with 26% of the vote. That means that at any given time well more than 50% could want you gone. They sign a petition, and a byelection is called. Whether or not you win or lose, the process then continues with the next petition of the majority who want you out.

Recall is a recipe for anarchy. No thanks.

Scott Hennig said...

Funny how it's suggested I need to check my facts when the retort contains not one "fact."

Hmmm, that simple, eh, sign a petition and it's done?

Please provide some proof of this being the case somewhere.

In BC, where they have a similar 3-4 party system (Greens got the same vote % last election in BC as the AB NDP) you can't introduce a recall petition in the first 18 months of an election, and you need to get 40% of the people on the voters list from the last election to sign the petition.

With less than 50% of the people voting, that would mean that you would need 80% of actual voters to sign a petition within 60 days.

If it's so simple, why doesn't it happen every few months in BC?

Anonymous said...

Scott's right, the actual act of recalling a politician is often extremely difficult in those venues where such laws already exist. However that leads to the obvious question... if actual recall incidents will be that few and far between, why is this such a pressing issue for the Wildrose Alliance? Is this really the best idea they could offer at a time when Albertans are desperate for any kind of real leadership?

I think the charge towards recall shows that the Wildrose is not quite ready for primetime. If Danielle Smith was the "savvy intellectual" some media outlets (*cough Don Braid's crush cough*) would have us believe, then why isn't she offering solutions to the problems Albertans are currently facing? We know that we either need spending cuts or taxation increases. Which would she do and via what specific measures? Will she cut from health care? Education? Social services? Or will she raise provincial income tax? Return to progressive taxation? Institue a provincial sales tax?

Of course none of those are "vote getting" ideas. They are real world situations with no easy answers. So in the absence of anyone with the gumption to treat Albertan voters like adults we get Steady Ed hoping oil & gas prices recover (not happening) and Danielle Smith proposing goofy solutions to non problems, like recall.

Too bad really. I suppose I just won't vote next time around. We've imported a culture of non answers and bullshit from our neighbors to the south. Just as it has cost them their economy, so too will it one day cost us.

Darren said...

Good info from Scott. If recall is that difficult to accomplish then it is sort of the policial equivalent of low hanging fruit. Not a bad move for a new party I suppose but there will be increasing pressure to outline some more substantiative policy platform, probably sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of the recall option myself, having lived in BC. It's there for extreme situations and when those (rare) situations arise you're glad recall is at least an option.

But that being said, Scott's right that is is very hard to organize a successful recall. It's a lot of work. Anyone who thinks it might be easy likely hasn't had to organize any kind of political activity that requires support from regular voters.

We should have recall in Alberta. It would help the MLA's to remember they are elected by their constituents rather than take their marching orders from unelected henchmen.

C.Morgan said...

Those who glibly state that it would be easy to get a petition to recall an elected official clearly have not done any form of real petitioning. I am not speaking of facebook petitions or online crap. Real petitioning means having the name, address and phone number of every signatory on an official and physical form. Many people simply will not sign such forms nor should it be automatically assumed that somebody who did not vote for the winning candidate would be supportive of repeating the entire exersize of an election.

Recall (as has been shown) is pretty much only successful when there are extreme circumstances surrounding the person in office. Currently, we have absolutely no means to recall members even if they do something profoundly terrible while in office. To give the means to the electorate would get a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Recall is every four years. Anything else is a waste of time and money.

Anonymous said...

Recall may be an effective tool for those rare times when a politician has done something so bad the vast majority of the electorate supports having that person recalled.

However is this really the best idea the Wildrose Alliance can come up with? What about some debate around the current challenges facing Alberta?