New legislation would strengthen democracy by getting big money out of Alberta politics and establishing a set election date
EDMONTON – POLITICS – If passed, Bill 81, the Election Statutes Amendment Act, would ban foreign money in provincial politics. It would do this by only allowing those who live in Alberta to make election advertising contributions. It would also ban people living outside of Canada and non-Canadian corporations or organizations from making political advertising contributions. These changes prohibit other jurisdictions from unduly influencing Alberta elections.
The act would set an annual $30,000 limit for donations to third parties, often called political action committees. It would also prohibit political parties, candidates and constituency associations from contributing to third parties.
Bill 81 would establish the last Monday in May as Election Day in Alberta. This is meant to level the playing field for all political parties, remove the advantage a governing party currently has and increase trust in the democratic process.
“Foreign entities have no business interfering in Alberta’s elections. This province belongs to its people, and elections must remain a time for Albertans to discuss and determine the fate of their province – without undue foreign influence. Through this bill, we are taking action to make Alberta’s elections fairer and more modern. These changes will strengthen our democracy and make it easier for Albertans to vote.”
The Election Statutes Amendment Act would also establish a formula for determining election expense limits for parties. It would reflect the increase in costs for campaign expenses. Currently, there is a flat limit of $2 million. The new limit would be $1.16 per registered voter.
The act would allow for increasing the number of advance voting places, where needed, to make it easier for Albertans who want to vote early. An amendment would also require voters to produce identification to vote in provincial elections, as in municipal and federal elections, increasing the integrity of Alberta elections.
Amendments would also help voting stations run more smoothly by allowing election officers to perform a wider range of assigned duties instead of being restricted to specialized roles.
The Election Statutes Amendment Act would also make minor amendments to electoral legislation, including the Alberta Senate Election Act, to ensure words and phrases are consistent throughout all election legislation. For example, proposed changes include changing terms like “polling day” to “election day.”
- Other bill proposals include:
- increasing the expense limit for nomination contestants from 20 per cent to 25 per cent of a candidate’s limit
- making it so contributions to nomination contestants (those seeking to be the official candidate in a riding) are not part of a donor’s maximum contribution limit
- allowing voter cards to be sent electronically as well as by mail
- changing legislation so contributions to nomination contestants are no longer tax-deductible
- clarifying that the election commissioner cannot start a citizen initiative petition
- allowing rules for a citizen initiative vote to be made by regulation
- clarifying that government and political entities could speak on issues raised under the Citizen Initiative Act
- having campaign periods start the day the writ is issued, instead of Feb. 1, consistent with establishing a set election day
- changing legislation so employers are only obligated to give an employee time off for voting if the employee’s schedule does not provide the employee with three consecutive hours to vote during advance voting or on election day
- adding references to the Recall Act and the Citizen Initiative Act to election-related legislation