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Come hell or high water — the need for election reform is nigh

Posted on March 15, 2016 by Sunny South News

You’ve heard of recalling some bad beef or a wonky electrical issue with a new ride but what about Alberta voters having the power to recall a politician? Sounds like bliss, as well as a long time coming.
Elected politicians are just that — elected by voters or the residents an elected politician was hired to represent. Voters are the employer and the elected politician — an employee. It’s simple really but Alberta and Canadian politics have become a gong show without consequences. It’s 2016 — the political systems, in Alberta, Canada and in the U.S., need a severe overhaul before it’s too late.
One idea floating around in Alberta is the Wildrose Party’s proposal of the Election Recall Act or Bill 201. It’s purpose, according to a recent Wildrose Party media release, would empower voters to recall MLAs and force a byelection. Not a bad premise, which would benefit both the voter and the constituency in which the byelection would occur, if need be.
The media release from the Wildrose also stated under the legislation, physical signatures of eligible voters in a riding equaling 66 per cent of ballots cast in the last election would be required, and a petition could only be started 18 months after an election. So, there would be some possibility to hold a politician accountable for bad choices, misrepresentation or just being plain old stupid.
According to news reports, the Wildrose Party recently launched a new petition campaign to support recall legislation.
Wildrose Shadow Democracy and Accountability Minister Jason Nixon stated in the recent media release politicians should not be immune from a job performance review for four years, regardless of their conduct.
As one statement in the media release stated Albertans are the boss and not MLAs. Hallelujah brothers and sisters. But, there is a catch. If a voter or voters want to petition an elected politician, they must first have to pay a $5,000 fee to prevent frivolous petitions, according to the media release and then they would have 60 days to collect physical, witnessed John Hancocks from eligible voters.
As the media release stated many U.S. states have recall provisions already in place and in Canada, B.C. is the only province to tout recall legislation. So, let’s get it on Alberta and the rest of so-called civilized forward-thinking society.
But, playing devil’s advocate, locally there was a Wildrose MLA in Little Bow who crossed the floor to the PCs, as well as many other Wildrose defectors including the Wildrose Grand Poobah-ette. But, what was a voter to do?
Well, no doubt, Bill 201 could have helped a disgruntled voter question the validity of the crossing the floor notion and the bill could have given voters in a constituency a chance to unseat said floor crossing rapscallion.
So, in theory, Bill 201 sounds like a step in the right direction but come on — $5,000 for voters to have the right to unseat an unsavoury employee? Yes, frivolous petitions could be a problem but money doesn’t necessarily have to be a component to holding one accountable for a wrong doing.
But, at least someone is starting a much needed and well overdue conversation about election reform in Alberta and in Canada. Again, when a politician seeks office, he is applying for a job. Canadians need to start looking at an election as a chance to hire some new blood or get rid of that aging old school employee on the cusp of retirement.
Instead of politicians, both provincially and federally, spouting out from the mouth about what their political parties stand for — they should be smooth talking and schmoozing the electorate with why said politician is right for the job and what services said politician can offer if employed.
Politicians should have to fill out a resume. Perhaps get a call back for one, two or three interviews. Then, they start the new job and have a three-month review. If the three-month review goes well, said politician can keep his/her job for the term with the possibility of termination if the electorate/employer becomes dissatisfied with the politician’s work. As the Donald used to say, “You’re Fired.”
So, should Bill 201 or the Election Recall Act become a reality in Alberta? If so, what should stay and what should go in the legislation? Should politicians be held responsible for their actions or inaction?
Canadian election reform, as a whole, needs to be re-examined. The last time this writer checked, Canada was no longer governed by a Queen and therefore, the political system needs a tweak here and there. An update from antiquity, if you will.
At the very least, good old country-wide conversation needs to be initiated on the topic before Canadians loose their right to a fair vote, as democracy takes a downward spiral.

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