Province nixes key electoral reforms

‘Essentially the bill is a whole lot of feathers not much chicken.’

Alberta’s official opposition is criticizing the province’s Election Statutes Amendment Act for rejecting several key recommendations introduced by the former chief electoral officer.

“Things like fixed election dates advanced polling in shopping mall areas and having leadership contestants reveal who gives them money wasn’t done” says Kent Hehr Liberal MLA for Calgary Buffalo. “Essentially the bill is a whole lot of feathers not much chicken.”

Former chief electoral officer Lorne Gibson recommended 182 changes to legislation after the 2008 election which saw a record low of 41 per cent voter turnout. The government rejected or revised 52 of the proposals and asked an all-party committee to develop rules for leadership campaign donations.

“We think the committee will do some good work and then we’ll be able to fully see the issues that people are needing us to address around transparency” says Justice Minister Alison Redford. “Our expectation is that there will be consensus on this.”

Premier Ed Stelmach and Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith have refused to fully disclose a list of their leadership campaign contributors. “When $200000 is given to a politician and you don’t have to tell who gave that money to the politician that has real problems” says Hehr.

Redford defended the decision to reject the fixed-election date proposal. “If you have a fixed-election date you end up creating a government that is campaigning toward an election date and we didn’t want to do that” she says.