ABmunis talks political parties at municipal level, province launches surveys

Alberta Municipalities President Tyler Gandam and pollster Janet Brown discussed the provincial government's possible introduction of political parties in municipal elections on Ryan Jespersen's Real Talk podcast on November 7. 

Gandam expressed skepticism, saying he didn't think the introduction of political parties in municipal elections would lead to better fundraising for candidates or higher voter turnout.

"When you're getting into a municipal election, what's important is the person who is representing you, not necessarily who they align with," said Gandam. 

Janet Brown described the rigorous methodology she uses for her public opinion research and explained some of the nuances her recent survey on the topic revealed. The survey, which was conducted specifically for ABmunis, took place from August 29 to September 12, 2023. 

The Government of Alberta launched two online surveys earlier this week on possible changes to the Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA) and the Municipal Government Act (MGA).

Possible changes to the LAEA

The provincial government is considering changes to the LAEA regarding:

  • Supporting the use of political parties in municipal governments
  • Advance voting
  • Voter lists
  • Rules for postponement of local elections
  • Using runoff elections for the position of mayor/reeve.

Possible changes to the MGA

The Government of Alberta is considering changes to the MGA regarding:

  • Requiring orientation training for councillors
  • Expanding the ability for councils to meet in private
  • Rules for councillor disqualification
  • Information disclosure by council candidates
  • Rules for councillor conflicts of interest.

Members of Alberta Municipalities were emphatic at the association’s annual convention in late September when they said the provincial government should refrain from introducing or encouraging the use of political parties in local government elections. ABmunis’ Board of Directors is reviewing the other survey topics and will formalize its position for input to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Members can expect to receive an email from ABmunis with additional information in the next few days.

In the meantime, we encourage members to promote the surveys to residents to increase input from Albertans. The surveys are set to close on December 6, 2023.