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Commentary: Local elections play key role

Big discussion underway on the issue of whether political parties should be part of the next municipal elections

Despite the next general municipal election still being 18 months away, the issue of whether political parties should be part of the next campaign is already starting to be discussed by local councils, provincial associations and many others.

With speculation running high that the UCP government will soon introduce legislation allowing political party-backed candidates in the 2025 election, it’s not surprising that the matter is gaining traction.

With a comfortable majority in the legislature, the Smith government would probably have little trouble pushing through a bill changing the way local elections are conducted.

The legislation itself could make amendments to the Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA) and the Municipal Government Act (MGA).

Whether those opposed to the plan will be able prevent the changeover remains anyone's guess.

What is known is that a major change to the way elections are conducted at the local level is a matter of utmost interest to residents in this district and across Alberta.

A large-scale, provincewide survey recently conducted by Janet Brown Opinion Research saw respondents asked if they would prefer to see municipal candidates run as individuals or as members of a political party.

According to the results, 68 per cent of respondents said they would prefer to see candidates seek office as individuals, while 24 per cent said they would prefer candidates from political parties.

The government itself conducted a similar survey on the matter last fall, but to date has declined to release the complete results of that provincewide poll.

While Premier Smith has said that new legislation may be on the way, she has so far declined to give specifics or outline exactly why the change is being contemplated.

Rural Municipalities of Alberta and the Alberta Municipalities, representing towns and counties across the province, have both come out strongly in favour of keeping party politics out of local elections.

Albertans are now eagerly awaiting a chance to see the Smith government’s plans around this issue – and the reasoning behind any such far-reaching move. 

Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.




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