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Innisfail's mayor rejects political party plan for municipalities

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith aims to introduce legislation this spring to allow party politics at the municipal level
Innisfail mayor Jean Barclay, centre, is categorically against the idea now being advanced by Premier Danielle Smith of allowing municipal political parties to be part of municipal politics. Johnnie Bachusky/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL – Alberta Premier Danielle Smith wants to have municipal political parties but Innisfail's mayor does not want anything to do with the idea.

“It makes no sense at the local level,” said Town of Innisfail Mayor Jean Barclay. “I would put the question back that maybe the question we should be looking at is taking party politics out of the provincial and federal levels. Maybe the system would function a lot better.

“To me, what this looks like is they want to shut down voices that they don't agree with. The more diversity and life experiences that you have around that table, the better decisions you're going to make; the better vision council will have.

“So, why do we want to shut down voices that are different? Maybe we should be embracing voices that are different.”

Barclay was responding to Smith’s declaration on Feb. 24 that she was in favour of party politics at the municipal level, which is now in place in British Columbia and Quebec.

However, Smith emphasized she is in favour of the idea for larger municipalities like Calgary and Edmonton but not so much for smaller ones.

"We've got 355 municipalities. The smaller the municipality, I don't know that they're as partisan. But when you get into a city the size of Calgary or Edmonton, you better believe it's partisan,” said Smith on her Saturday morning radio program, Your Province. Your Premier.

She added formalizing the initiative would bring more transparency.

The premier added there will “very likely” be legislation this spring that will address the issue of a new system to include municipal political parties.

However, Barclay noted that 95 per cent of the Alberta Municipalities (AM) membership voted last September at its annual convention in Edmonton in favour of keeping party politics out of municipal governments.

“I don't think there's any decisions or issues that we deal with that should be labelled left or right,” said Barclay. “We have much better representation. We are the government that is closest to the people. We are likely the most transparent. We are in the community and face to face with the people.

“And when somebody comes to us, myself or another councillor and they have something to discuss, I don't wrap that up in any kind of ideology, and never would. We are here to serve people, and I'm not sure people are necessarily well served through party politics.”


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