Keep local elections Local

Local elections allow residents to choose their community's future


Premier Danielle Smith’s mandate letter to Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver instructed him to collaborate with Minister of Justice Mickey Amery to review the Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA) and make recommendations for any necessary amendments to “strengthen public trust in and the integrity of our municipal election laws.” 

At ABmunis’ Spring Municipal Leaders’ Caucus in March 2024, Premier Smith and Municipal Affairs Minister McIver told ABmunis members that the provincial government intends to introduce political parties at the municipal level, possibly during this current session of the Legislature.  

The Government of Alberta stated that the main motivator for introducing political parties at the municipal level is to ensure transparency and good governance, especially when it comes to raising funds.  


Our Concerns

Seventy per cent (70%) of Albertans have said they do not want the divisiveness of political parties disrupting their communities. Municipal elected officials need to continue to work on local challenges and not focus on the interests of their parties. We are also concerned that introducing political parties at the municipal level could result in money from other regions being used to influence elections in local municipalities.  

The current non-partisan system encourages councillors to collaborate to find solutions for their community. Garbage collection is not a partisan issue. The cost to rent the hockey rink is not a partisan issue.  

The Government of Alberta has twice consulted the public on the topic and both times the results aligned with the ABmunis-commissioned survey. Albertans don't want political parties in municipal elections. Albertans want to vote for candidates, not labels. 


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Proposed Solutions

Recognizing the concerns the Government of Alberta voiced, we submitted a letter with proposed solutions that will address these concerns while also considering the most beneficial solution for municipalities and the Albertans they represent. 

  • ABmunis acknowledges Premier Smith’s concern that corporations and unions may be getting around prohibitions on campaign financing by funneling money through individual donors and third-party advertisers.  
  • Local election rules should be inclusive – in terms of maximizing the ability of all Albertans to participate in elections as candidates, contributors, and voters.  
  • The average Albertan has limited resources to contribute to campaigns, especially during these challenging times.  
  • The current $5,000 limit on campaign contributions is far more than what the average Albertan can afford. It risks tilting the playing field and allowing large donors to drown out the voice of grassroots Albertans.  
  • The $10,000 self-contribution limit should also be reviewed.   
  • High expense limits undermine inclusion and fairness by increasing financial barriers to participation as both candidates and contributors, while increasing the ability of big money to influence elections.  
  • ABmunis recommends reducing the limit to $2,500 or introducing a population-based limit that is scalable to the municipality.
  • To ensure transparency, it is essential that voters have access to interim disclosure statements from candidates before the election.  
  • In 2020, a section of the LAEA enabling municipalities to pass bylaws requiring candidates to file pre-election disclosure statements was repealed (Previous - Section 147.4(8) and (9))  
  • The provision would have allowed municipalities to engage their citizens in determining an approach that reflected their administrative capacity and input from local voters as to the disclosure limits (e.g., contributions over $100 are disclosed).  
  • ABmunis recommends reinstating the provision or introducing a new provision for municipalities with sufficient administrative capacity (e.g. those with populations of more than 5,000 or 10,000) to require candidates to file interim disclosure statements that would be posted publicly on the municipality’s website.    
  • Every candidate should be tracking contributions as they receive them.    
  • ABmunis would be pleased to work with the ministry to develop simple tracking templates for candidates and guidance for municipalities.   
  • This requirement is not relevant in smaller communities where most candidates do not accept significant contributions or make significant campaign expenditures.
  • ABmunis appreciates concerns raised by the Premier that individuals and groups may be finding ways to circumvent campaign rules.   
  • Individuals and groups must not be able to engage in activities indirectly via third parties that they are barred from doing directly.   
  • Third-party advertisers should be held to the same limitations as individual candidates related to contribution limits and election advertising.   
  • Further, third parties should also be required to meet high transparency and disclosure standards.   
  • The ability to influence elections should come with clear obligations and responsibilities for third-party advertisers. To that end, four additions to the LAEA are necessary to level the playing field:   
    • Establish a maximum annual contribution limit per donor in alignment with the limits for municipal candidates to create a more level playing field for average Albertans.  
    • Mandate recurring monthly disclosure of the financial contributions made to, and of the directors and officers of, a third-party advertiser to increase accountability and transparency.    
    • Establish third-party political advertising restrictions on January 1 in the year of a general election. In the LAEA individuals can file to become a candidate (and begin fundraising) on January 1 in the year of a general election. However, section 161(1)(e) specifies an “election advertising period” during which third parties are regulated commencing May 1 in a general election year.   
    • Establish annual limits and annual disclosure requirements for third-party advertising outside of election years (use calendar year) to ensure accountability and transparency are maintained at all times. 
  • Amend section 27 of the LAEA and the Local Authorities Election Forms Regulation to require nomination forms to include a section where candidates must indicate that they will comply with section 153 of the Municipal Government Act setting out general duties of councillors:  
    • (a) to consider the welfare and interests of the municipality as a whole and to bring to council’s attention anything that would promote the welfare or interests of the municipality;   
    • (a.1) to promote an integrated and strategic approach to intermunicipal land use planning and service delivery with neighbouring municipalities;   
    • (b) to participate generally in developing and evaluating the policies and programs of the municipality;   
    • (c) to participate in council meetings and council committee meetings and meetings of other bodies to which they are appointed by the council;   
    • (d) to obtain information about the operation or administration of the municipality from the chief administrative officer or a person designated by the chief administrative officer;   
    • (e) to keep in confidence matters discussed in private at a council or council committee meeting until discussed at a meeting held in public;   
    • (e.1) to adhere to the code of conduct established by the council under section 146.1(1);   
    • (f) to perform any other duty or function imposed on councillors by this or any other enactment or by the council.  
  • The benefit of this option is that in addition to clarifying that once elected, councillors are accountable to the whole municipality rather than to a political party or slate, it highlights other responsibilities of councillors which some candidates may not be aware of and can lead to challenges once elected.   
  • ABmunis is committed to working with Municipal Affairs and other partners to provide education and information resources that help candidates, councillors and the public better understand the roles and responsibilities of councillors.   
  • Our goal is to avoid situations in which  slates of councillors disregard their legislative duties. Such behaviour is detrimental to the well-being of communities and causes administrative headaches for Municipal Affairs.   

How can you help? 

While we continue to advocate for our members on this topic, we can use every voice to amplify the importance of this topic. Here is a selection of actions you can take to ensure our voice will be heard: 


ABmunis Members

If you are a member of Alberta Municipalities, we recommend that you: 

  1. Contact your local MLA and address your concerns 
  2. Create awareness about the topic with your residents by discussing with your local news media or via social media posts 
  3. Pass a motion in council to draw attention to your official position on the proposed legislation 



If you are a concerned resident, we recommend that you: 

  1. Contact your local MLA and raise your concerns 
  2. Share your thoughts respectfully on your favourite social media platform