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Monday, April 13, 2009

the delayed fixed-election date debate in alberta [am i detecting a trend?].

Tomorrow, in the City of Victoria, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia will drop the Writ for their second fixed-date election. Introduced in 2001 by Premier Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals, British Columbia became the first Canadian Province to implement fixed-election dates, removing the power of the Premier to arbitrarily decide when elections are held.

In April 2008, St. Albert PC MLA Ken Allred introduced a Private Member's Bill, Bill 203: Election Statutes (Fixed Election Dates), in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta that would have created fixed-election dates in our province. The Bill received very little public debate in the Legislature and was opposed by MLAs in the PC caucus, including Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Richard Marz, who argued to the media that fixed-election dates would allow public sector unions to strike in conjunction with elections.

In May 2008, Marz introduced a motion that "Bill 203, the Election Statutes (Fixed Election Dates) Amendment Act, 2008, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence." Marz's motion was passed when 36 PC MLAs (including Allred) out-voted 5 opposition MLAs.

Five months later, while Premier Ed Stelmach opposed calls for fixed-election dates by then-Chief Electoral Officer Lorne Gibson, there was no public debate in the Legislative Assembly on Allred's Bill 203.

Ten months later, as Gibson was dismissed from his position by a PC MLA-dominated committee, there was still no public debate in the Legislative Assembly on Allred's Bill 203.

A year later, as British Columbians head to the polls in their second fixed-date election (and second STV referendum) on May 12, 2009, Albertans will celebrate exactly one year since PC MLAs voted for a six month delay on the debate about fixed-election dates in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.


Anonymous said...

Canada needs fixed election dates and fixed terms across the board!!!

Oh yeah and an elected Senate!

Kyle said...

Since when has the PC Party been afraid of Unions?

The Accountability Avenger said...

For the public record. here is how MLAs voted on the motion to delay debate for 6 months:

For the motion:
Cindy Ady
Arno Doerksen
Richard Marz
Ken Allred
Wayne Drysdale
Len Mitzel
Moe Amery
Yvonne Fritz
Frank Oberle
Carl Benito
Hec Goudreau
Verlyn Olson
Evan Berger
George Groeneveld
Luke Ouellette
Naresh Bhardwaj
Dave Hancock
Dave Rodney
Manmeet Bhullar
Jack Hayden
George Rogers
Lindsay Blackett
Doug Horner
Janice Sarich
Robin Campbell
Art Johnston
Lloyd Snelgrove
Wayne Cao
Heather Klimchuk
Ron Stevens
Ray Danyluk
Mel Knight
Greg Weadick
Alana DeLong
Thomas Lukaszuk
David Xiao

Against the motion:
Laurie Blakeman
Brian Mason
Dave Taylor
Harry Chase
Bridget Pastoor

Anonymous said...

Please remind me, What do you call it when someone promises to do something but then doesn't?

Lawrence Porter said...

how can they not come back and debate it when it has a set time limit? is this going to be brought up again?

MK said...

Funny that Richard Marz, Ken Allred, Wayne Drysdale, Yvonne Fritz, Evan Berger, Jack Hayden, George Rogers, Janice Sarich, Lloyd Snelgrove, Ray Danyluk, Mel Knight, and Greg Weadick were all municipal politicians before running for MLA and had to deal with 3-year term fixed-election dates in those elected positions.

I wonder if Mr. Marz encountered similar problems when he was Reeve of Kneehill County?

Both Brian Mason and Bridget Pastoor were City Councillors before they became MLA's and they don't have a problem with fixed-election dates?

Anonymous said...

Lawrence: This is a legislative tool used to kill debate on Bills without actually voting against it. Ken Allred's Bill has simply disappeared into a nether world of Legislative vacuum, never to be seen or heard of again. It's a shame because this was a good Bill.

It's too bad that Ken Allred is just one of 50 Tory backbenchers in a party that doesn't tolerate dissent in the elected legislature. He's a smart guy and this Bill would have passed in any other province.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Dave!

Tom Krulak said...

Fixed Elections transcend partisan labels. In Alberta Liberals want them, the NDP want them, and Ted Morton wanted them when he ran to be the Progressive Conservative leader.

The right-wing BC Liberals and the Saskatchewan Party created fixed dates in their provinces and Dalton McGuinty's Liberal Party and Danny Williams PC Party created them in Ontario and Newfoundland. Even Stephen Harper's Conservatives created a fixed election date! This isn't a radical idea by any means!!

I went as a delegate to last years PC convention to convince delegates to vote for this policy. It failed.

Anonymous said...

If there were a credible opposition party in this province the Tories would have a harder time getting away with these kind of political maneuvers.

Chandler Kent said...

I assume (and correct me if I'm wrong, Dave) that you're a fan of fixed dates because you believe they will result in higher turnout? If so, show me how fixed dates have accomplished that in BC and Ontario?

BTW, bigger turnout wouldn't have changed a damn thing in March 2008.

daveberta said...

Chandler: I'm opposed to the idea of one man having the authority to decide when a General Election is held. I'm a big fan of fixed election dates because it removes the power of the Premier to decide when the Legislature gets elected.

There's no evidence that fixed election dates would change the results of any past election, which is a bizarre argument to make in the first place.

Hank III said...

It's telling that Tory apologists like Chandler can't/don't muster up much of a counter-argument on issues like these.

It's all so, so tired.

Anonymous said...

Fixed election dates are simply democratic, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to predict unfixed election dates in any case. What exactly are the Tories afraid of?

Jeff J. said...

-$4.7 billion dollar Budget deficit
-economic recession
-16,000 albertans lose their jobs in past few months
-fixed election dates!

One of these issues is not like the other one, one of these issues just doesn't belong, can you guess which one of these issues is not like the other one?

Priorities, anyone can make 'em!

Anonymous said...

So let me see if this makes sense, in the midst of an economic recession, and with the Olympic games occurring in less than 11 months, and all the problems associated with cost-overruns and unfinished projects, the government is forced to call an election?

Fixed election dates are democratic only in the sense that it reinforces that nothing is more important than an election. If you believe that, then go ahead and support fixed election dates. Personally, I like knowing that my government is there to govern, and if something more important occurs than they should do their job, which is to govern, as opposed to being forced to run an election during an inopportune time.

Just my thoughts.

rc said...

Jeff J; Priorities, indeed.

At least fixed election dates would be a half-step up from what the PCs actually have been doing during the economy's downward slide -- stuff like adopting an 'official' provincial mushroom or blowing $25 million bucks on a PR campaign.

In its defense, though, at least the promo video for said PR campaign makes Mr. Stelmach weepy. That's gotta be worth something.

Lawrence Porter said...

Anyone else interested in writing newspapers and MLAs on the 12? maybe if a couple of us do it the media will pick up on it a bit more...I'll be writing one regarless. Hope others do as well.

Anonymous said...

Not a big fan of fixed election dates, for reasons outlined above.

That said though, setting a date to debate something and then just not... that's even worse. That's evidence of a management team that is unfocussed and inefficient -- not the kind of team we want making decisions about the economy in this province.