By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Bill 201 or the proposed Election Recall Act by the Wildrose Party recently received first and second reading in the Alberta legislature. “It’s still in the house and it will stay there until we get back sometime after Apr. 4. I guess it will probably be voted on somewhere along in there. I’m never sure where it fits in the agenda — the order paper of the day,” joked Little Bow MLA David Schneider adding it will come to third reading when the legislature is back in session.
According to a recent Wildrose Party media release, the bill’s purpose would be to empower voters to recall MLAs and force a by-election. Under the legislation, the media release noted, physical signatures of eligible voters in a riding equaling 66 per cent of ballots cast in the last election would be required within 60 days, and a petition could only be started 18 months after an election and a $5,000 application fee would be charged. These items were included, so voters couldn’t order a recall because they were mad at something their MLA did and it was created so it doesn’t end up being a frivolous thing, Schneider added.
“There’s been arguments both ways. Some say creating a by-election in a riding because there’s been a recall costs taxpayers a lot of money — that’s an argument against. Our argument for is we believe it strengthens Alberta’s democracy further. It allows those that elect the person to the Legislative Assembly to recall that person if the need arose,” Schneider said.
The bill, Schneider said, would make every MLA truly accountable. “That’s what we believe.”
“Voters can only do it once during a term. In the proposed legislation, that MLA would be eligible to run again in the by-election. It should be hard really. It should be hard to recall a politician. It shouldn’t be frivolous,” he said.
According to Schneider, the Wildrose believes the very presence of a recall would make politicians more accountable.
When asked if this new bill would help with politicians floorcrossing from party to party during a term, similar to last year prior to the provincial election when many elected Wildrose politicians crossed over to the PCs, Schneider noted none of the floorcrossing politicians got re-elected. “So that all sorted itself out. It was close to the end of an election cycle,” he added.
Another hot topic in the legislature is the carbon tax being introduced and proposed in Alberta.
“Hopefully it’s clear to Albertans there’s no way to interpret this carbon tax as revenue neutral. The carbon tax looks like it’s going to cost Albertans, every Alberta household, about $1,000. The gas price will go up by about seven-cents a litre.”
To be revenue neutral, Schneider said, adding a carbon tax is meant to deter people from using carbon-based fuel.
Schneider said there should be an equaling incentive tax, similar to how it is done in British Columbia, where any tax is offset by an incentive for residents to not use carbon-based fuel. “It is revenue neutral. This is all for big business, etc. that is using carbon,” he said, adding it should be somewhat of a deterrent but it shouldn’t cost the taxpayers of the province trying to heat their homes or drive their vehicles.
Some Albertans, Schneider said, are calling a carbon tax a $3 billion Provincial Sales Tax (PST). “I can’t say that’s what it is but it’s an interesting take on what this carbon tax actually is,” he joked.
“There’s $250 million being returned to Albertans and it’s not clear where that’s going to or who it’s going to but there’s $2.75 billion of the three to be used for government projects. Nobody has told us what the government projects are yet either,” he added.
Schneider has set up shop in the Little Bow riding with an office to be opened soon in Coaldale and an outreach drop-in service in Vauxhall.