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Allard suggests Albertans can handle robust ballots

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard suggests Albertans are fully capable of understanding loaded ballots and making informed electoral decisions. As the newly minted minister travels the province meeting with municipal leaders, she says the onus falls on the government to put forth accurate information for voters.

“I believe the voter is sophisticated and I believe we have a responsibility, which I said to members of AUMA, to do our part to help the voters understand the issues, both local and the referendum,” she says. “I believe the voter has the capacity to handle both sets of issues.”

The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association recently voted, almost unanimously, to advocate towards keeping Senate elections and provincial referendums off local ballots. The passing allows the AUMA to lobby higher levels of government about the issue.

The AUMA’s decision came shortly after the provincial government said a referendum on equalization payments and Senate representative election could be held simultaneously to the 2021 municipal elections. Allard says she believes voter turnouts tend to increase when there are more issues and greater topics of concern to Albertans on the discussion tables.

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“Typically statistics show when there’s a referendum on a broader issue, let’s say equalization, you have a higher voter turnout. To me, that’s never a bad thing. I would say from this perspective we have some challenging decisions to make with respect to municipal affairs, the assessment model being one that stands out because it’s a burning issue for municipalities for sure and for industry quite frankly.”

City of Grande Prairie authorities have said they worry residents will not have adequate time to consider local issues and their own council should provincial and national issues potentially take spotlights away from municipal elections.

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