Grande Prairie Councillor Dylan Bressey isn’t hiding his concerns when it comes to potential changes to the Local Authorities Elections Act.
The concerns stem from the start of recent consultation put forward by Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu, which asks the public their thoughts on everything from the length of the campaign period, to campaign finances and third third-party advertising.
Bressey says in the last few years, the subject of money in local politics has been debated, and he believes at that point, the voting public made their voices heard loud and clear.
“The previous government did consultations on election financing and 85 percent of Albertans said they wanted to see less money in municipal elections, so it’s concerning that there is now consultation that seems to be considering putting more money in.”
He adds that things like potential referendum questions, on topics ranging from equalization to senate elections could also find their way onto a municipal ballot. Bressey adds that a longer ballot does not equate into a more informed voter, and would urge caution before trying to tie too many non-local factors into a municipal election cycle.
“I’d suggest local elections should stay local, and if our media and citizens need to get up to scope on complicated and important federal and provincial issues they’re going to be less able to hold local candidates and officials to account.”
In a statement, Minister Madu says the idea of the consultation is not to create wholesale changes to the local election act but to get an idea on how Albertans think the rules can be improved to enhance transparency and participation in local elections.
“Albertans expect local elections to be fair, transparent and inclusive. This consultation will determine if and how we, as a government, can better meet these goals,” he says.
Anyone looking for more information can take part in the Government of Alberta survey.