Under new legislation tabled today by the UCP government, Bill 52 will allow Albertans the right to recall their MLA, city council member and school board trustees. This bill fulfills a promise Kenney made back in February 2019.
"At the end of the day, ordinary Alberta voters are the boss in our democracy and if they lose faith in their elected representatives, they can hold them to account in between elections,” said Premier Jason Kenney as he announced the 'Recall Act.' "[It will allow voters to] effectively to fire their elected representatives if they break public confidence.”
Based on similar legislation found in British Columbia, citizens who want to recall a representative in question would need to obtain signatures from 40 per cent of the electorate in 60 days. To sign the petition, an individual must have lived in the constituency for at least three months. If that threshold should be met, a constituency-wide referendum to keep or toss out the member in question.
If successful,, the MLA would lose their seat and a by-election would be held. MLAs can only face one recall vote per term, and can only have petition for their recall active at a time.
Kenney said the act will “strengthen democratic grassroots accountability in Alberta" and will take effect “later this year” and “well before six months prior to the next election.”
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation applauded the Alberta government for introducing the recall legislation.
“Recall legislation is a big win for government accountability in Alberta,” said Franco Terrazzano, the CTF’s Alberta Director. “The people are supposed to be the boss and today’s recall bill reaffirms that role by giving us the ability to fire misbehaving politicians outside of elections.”
Recall legislation allows voters to fire an MLA or local politician if they collect enough signatures and hold a successful recall vote.
The CTF has long advocated for recall legislation and made recommendations to the Alberta government’s democratic accountability committee last fall. Leading up to 2019 provincial election, the CTF called on all parties to commit to recall legislation and extend it to the local level.
“Premier Jason Kenney deserves a lot of credit for living up to his campaign promise and making Alberta the second province that gives voters the ability to hold politicians accountable more than once every four years,” said Terrazzano. “Taxpayers are the boss and we always deserve the ability to hold our politicians, including councilors and mayors, accountable and Kenney’s recall bill gives us that ability.”
Not all are on board, however. The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and the Rural Municipalities of Alberta have called such legislation "cumbersome and expensive" and believe it may be used for harassment and intimidation
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has also spoken about his concerns with thresholds involving municipal politicians.
“If you’re going to do it, actually do it,” he said. “It’s much too high in a big city. It might actually be too low in a small town. You’ve got to be super thoughtful about this stuff.”