Premier Jason Kenney says the thresholds to recall an MLA may seem high, but they were put in place to try and avoid anyone potentially acting in bad faith.
Under the proposed Recall Act, the recall of an elected official becomes an option 18 months after their respective election. The process starts with an application to the chief electoral officer or the chief administrative officer of a municipality.
They would then have 60 days to gather signatures from 40 per cent of eligible voters in their constituency for MLAs. For elected municipal officials, they would need signatures from electors that represent 40 per cent of the population in the municipality or ward.
Kenney tells MyGrandePrairieNow.com they were set at that level to prevent frivolous abuse but to also be low enough to trigger a byelection if there is widespread public demand.
“What we don’t want is special interest groups trying to redo an election if they don’t like the result. That would undermine democracy and the ability to make decisions… but, if an MLA has done some outrageous things that completely tick off their constituents, they should be able to vote on that.”
Premier Kenney adds the recent travel scandal involving Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard and others in his government had nothing to do with the timeline of introducing the recall legislation.
Allard was one of several Alberta MLAs and government employees who faced harsh criticism for international travel over the holidays, despite federal and provincial public health guidance against it. However, Kenney says the wheels for recall legislation were in motion long before that.
“It really didn’t have anything to do with it. We actually had a legislature committee study the recall and initiative bills last year, they reported back in December… we got the report just before Christmas, and it was always our intention to take the recommendations and turn them into law in the spring sitting of the legislature.”
The bill is expected to pass all three readings and receive royal ascent during the spring legislature session.