Legislative changes, not political parties, needed

Alberta Municipalities President Tyler Gandam shared the association’s recommendations on improving transparency and governance in municipal politics without introducing political parties in local elections at an April 9 online media event.

While the four recommendations were shared with Premier Danielle Smith and Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver by letter several weeks ago, as well as with ABmunis members via email and a March 27 article in The Weekly, they had not been widely publicized until President Gandam’s news conference.  

Alberta Municipalities’ four recommendations are as follows:

  • Limit donation amounts to $2,500 per candidate. In recent reviews of Alberta’s election rules, Albertans clearly signaled they want to see less money involved in local elections, not more. A reduction in contribution limits would go a long way towards creating a more level playing field and ensuring large donors do not drown out the voices of grassroots Albertans.
  • Improve financial disclosure rules. Candidates should be required to file pre-election disclosure statements. Disclosure requirements for third-party advertisers should be strengthened. Voters should know who is donating money to candidates or indirectly supporting them through advertising. We recommend that the limits on campaign contributions to candidates should also be applied to third parties so that Political Action Committees – PACs – don’t have an advantage over individual candidates.
  • Change the nomination form to ensure the role of councillors is clearly understood. These changes would require candidates to confirm they understand the role of councillors as set out in the Municipal Government Act (MGA). 
  • Make educational opportunities and resources available to prospective candidates. Legislation alone cannot fix divisiveness and dysfunction on municipal councils. That is why we are committed to working with Alberta Municipal Affairs and other associations to provide education and resources that support productive councils.

President Gandam expressed hope that any legislative changes the provincial government is currently considering will reflect the wishes of Albertans and be discussed with Alberta Municipalities and other organizations in the coming days. The association would like nothing more than to collaborate with the Government of Alberta on this and many other issues that affect municipal governments across the province.

For more information on this topic, and suggestions on how you can support our messaging, visit Alberta Municipalities’ Keep Local Elections Local web page.

Check this week’s issue of Friday News for media coverage of this important issue.