MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - Residents should be encouraged to take part in two new provincial government online surveys aimed at garnering input into local elections and councillor accountability, says Mountain View County Reeve Angela Aalbers.
Launched recently, the surveys are seeking input from the public and stakeholders on the Local Authorities Elections Act (LAEA) and the Municipal Government Act (MGA).
“We always welcome the opportunity to engage the public on issues that directly impact them,” Aalbers told the Albertan. “Elections are an opportunity to participate in our democratic process and so any information that the public can provide to improve that process as well as the expectations of the elected officials is a good thing.”
The surveys will remain open until Dec. 6, with input gathered being used to inform potential changes to the two acts. As well as the surveys, the government is seeking input from municipal administrations, municipal associations and locally elected officials.
The LAEA survey asks questions related to how local elections are conducted, including advanced voting, voter eligibility and the involvement of political parties at the local level.
While the act does not prohibit candidates from being members of political parties, it does include strict parameters allowing only for the name of the candidate to be on the ballot. As such the act does not permit a political affiliation or endorsement to be included on a ballot.
Questions in the survey include the following: “Should the electoral ballot be amended to allow political parties to be listed by municipal candidates?” and “Could there be any issues or challenges with listing political parties on the electoral ballot for local elections?”
The MGA survey asks questions on topics related to the accountability and transparency of locally elected officials, including disqualification rules, monetary conflict of interest, disclosure of information and requiring training for councillors.
Questions in the survey include the following: “Should attending orientation training offered by the municipality be mandatory for all councillors?” and “Should there be limitations on what councils can discuss in private meetings?”
Regarding the authority to remove councillors from office, the survey asks if the current process for dismissing a municipal council or councillors should be changed.
As of April 2023, the MGA allows for the recall of municipality elected officials, with a petitioner being required to collect signatures from eligible voters that represent 40 per cent or more of the population of the ward or municipality and the signatures must be collected within 60 days.
The survey asks if those threshold requirements should be changed or modified.
Alberta Municipalities, which represents urban municipalities in this region, recently passed a resolution calling for the maintenance of non-partisan municipal elections in the province.
“For our municipalities to remain efficient, effective and accountable, it is critical that we leave no room for partisan politics,” the resolution states.
“This is critical in local government and plays a big part in why local government is the most accountable and efficient form of government.”
Both surveys are available on the government’s website at Alberta.ca.