BY ISAAC TEO

Alberta has introduced a bill that would allow voters a chance to “fire” their elected representatives if they break public confidence, says Premier Jason Kenney.

Introduced on Monday, Bill 52, the Recall Act, would allow Albertans to initiate a process that could lead to the removal and replacement of elected members of the legislative assembly (MLAs), municipal officials, and school trustees during their term.

“To make it clear that at the end of the day, ordinary Alberta voters are the boss in our democracy, and if they lose faith in their elected representatives, that they can hold them to account in between elections” Kenney said in a press conference on Monday.

The recall bill, according to Kenney, is part of a commitment the Conservative Party made during the last election and was also recommended by a legislature committee in November 2020.

Interest in the bill increased after Christmas, when several of the premier’s caucus members, including a cabinet minster, were spotted vacationing in sunny locales, ignoring COVID-19 health measures he set in place. COVID-19 is the disease the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus causes.

Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu said the proposed window to begin the recall process will be 18 months after an election and six months before the next one. 

To recall a MLA, an Albertan would have to apply to the chief electoral officer for a petition. Upon approval, the applicant would have 60 days to gather signatures from 40 percent of eligible voters in that constituency. If the petition threshold is met, a recall vote would be held in that constituency. If the majority agrees with the recall, the MLA would be removed from office and a by-election would be triggered, said Madu.

In the case of municipal officials, Albertans would need to apply for a petition through the chief administrative officer of the municipal. The petitioner then has 60 days to collect signatures from 40 percent of the population of the municipality or ward. If the recall petition is successful, the elected official would lose the seat automatically once the petition is presented at the next council meeting.

For school board trustees, the recall process differs slightly. Instead of 60 days, Albertans who apply the petition through the secretary of the relevant school board would have 120 days to gather signatures from 40 percent of eligible voters in that school district or ward. If the petition meets the requirement, the trustees would be asked to leave the board. After which the board will decide if a by-election is needed.

There’s a $500 application fee for the petition to recall a municipal official or school board trustee, according to Kenney’s office.

NDP Opposition critic Heather Sweet posted on Twitter that the bill imposes hurdles so high that it’s “virtually impossible to use in the real world.”

Kenney said he expects Bill 52 to be accepted by the legislature, with the government caucus voting in faith this spring.

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