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Alberta government brings in long-awaited recall legislation

Recall applications are permissible eighteen months after an election and until six months before the next general election by an eligible Alberta voter.

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The Alberta government announced crucial recall legislation Monday afternoon – as more focus goes to Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership review.

Called Bill 52, the legislation will allow Albertans to initiate a process that could lead to removing and replacing elected officials, including MLAs, municipal officials and school board officials. 

If passed, the legislation intends to strengthen democracy by empowering Albertans to hold elected officials accountable throughout their term.

Kenney spoke with news media this afternoon, stating his government was committed to the “most dramatic democratic reforms in Alberta history.”

He emphasized the importance of putting Alberta voters in the driver’s seat to make it clear that at the end of the day, Alberta voters are the boss in our democracy.

“If they lose faith in their elected representatives, they can hold them to account in between elections. That’s why we made a commitment to bring in a recall law that allows voters effectively to fire their elected representatives if they break public confidence,” said Kenney. 

When asked about the coincidence of the period allowed for a petition by Bill 52 and his leadership review in 2022, Kenney said: ”Our elected provincial board for the United Conservative Party passed a motion by a vote of 16-1 on Friday to schedule the leadership review for our AGM in 2022.”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation applauded the Alberta government for introducing recall legislation today.

“Recall legislation is a big win for government accountability in Alberta,” said Franco Terrazzano, the CTF’s Alberta Director.

“The people are supposed to be the boss and today’s recall bill reaffirms that role by giving us the ability to fire misbehaving politicians outside of elections.”

The CTF has long advocated for recall legislation and made recommendations to the Alberta government’s democratic accountability committee last fall. Leading up to 2019 provincial election, the CTF called on all parties to commit to recall legislation and extend it to the local level.

“Premier Jason Kenney deserves a lot of credit for living up to his campaign promise and making Alberta the second province that gives voters the ability to hold politicians accountable more than once every four years,” said Terrazzano.

“Taxpayers are the boss and we always deserve the ability to hold our politicians, including councillors and mayors, accountable and Kenney’s recall bill gives us that ability.”

The recall process will not be an easy one.

“Eighteen months after an election and until six months before the next general election, an eligible Alberta voter can begin the process to have an MLA recalled,” said Clara M. Cerminara, a lawyer with Alberta’s Justice and Solicitor General.

“If they feel the MLA in their constituency is not upholding their responsibilities, an Albertan can apply to the Chief Electoral Officer for a petition to recall that elected official.”

If the application is complete and meets the requirements of the act, the Chief Electoral Officer will issue the petition to be used to collect signatures. The Albertan would then have 60 days to gather signatures, as is the case with British Columbia’s recall legislation, from 40 per cent of eligible voters in that constituency. 

Cerminara said the applicant can have volunteer canvassers to assist them in gathering signatures but cautioned they must also be residents of that constituency.

She also states there is “no set criteria” on grounds for a recall petition. However, she requests that each petition has to attach a 200-word summary explaining the reason for the member recalled.

A fee for the recall application of MLAs has yet to be determined.

Once the signatures are gathered, they would be submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer, who would ensure the signatures are valid, and ensure the petition has reached the threshold of 40 per cent.

She emphasized the Chief Electoral Officer doesn’t have any power to say what constitutes a good reason, and left it entirely in the hands of the voters.

If the recall petition is successful, a recall vote would be held to determine if the elected official should be recalled, including the premier.

If the recall vote is successful, by a simple majority, the official ceases to hold office and a by-election would be held.

A proclamation date for Bill 52 has yet to be determined.

If an Albertan feels an elected municipal official is not upholding their responsibilities, they can notify the Chief Administrative Officer in the municipality of their intent to start a recall petition. 

If they are eligible to vote in the election for the official and meet the other requirements in the legislation, the Chief Administrative Officer would publish a notice of the petition on the municipality’s website, and the petitioner would then have 60 days from the date the petition is published on the website to gather signatures from eligible voters that represent 40 per cent of the population of the municipality or ward. 

“Petitions at the municipal level are fairly challenging to achieve in general and the 40 per cent standard, we believe, is sufficient to ensure frivolous attempts by former competitors have quite a hill to climb,” said Andrew Horton, from Municipal Affairs.

“For example, there are about 77,000 individuals residing in a particular Edmonton Ward, and 83,000 in Calgary, on average. The number of electors per riding is roughly 37,000. 

“If someone who ran a municipal election campaign were to create a petition and they already have all that voter data, they would need to get signatures from about 31,000 signatures for a municipal recall, which might not be easily achievable for the average citizen.” 

If the petition is successful, at the next municipal council meeting, the Chief Administrative Officer would make a declaration of the successful recall petition, and the official would be removed.

For school board officials, if an Albertan feels an elected official in their school division is not upholding their responsibilities, they can apply to the secretary of the school board. 

The petitioner would then have 120 days to gather signatures from eligible voters that represent 40 per cent of the eligible voters in that school district. 

If the recall petition is successful, the official is removed.

The applicant would be responsible for all costs associated with gathering the required number of signatures, however, they can accept contributions toward their petition. 

There will be limits on how much Albertans and third parties, like political action committees, can spend on promoting or arguing against the petition to recall an MLA, and guidelines on how the donated money must be spent. 

These limits will be included in the regulations.

Dhaliwal is an Edmonton-based reporter for the Western Standard.

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Flights from Vancouver to Kamloops priced more than $1,200 over Christmas

BC flight prices have skyrocketed over the Christmas season following flood damage to highways.

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Following substantial flooding in November, which led to savaged highways and infrastructure, many of those planning to visit family out of town for Christmas are forced to fly — and some will be paying exorbitant prices for it.

For example, a WestJet round trip — listed on Expedia — from Vancouver to Kamloops, BC on December 22, with a return flight on December 27 is listed at $1,264 as of Wednesday morning.

The normally 30-minute flight includes a nearly four-hour layover in Calgary.

On TripAdvisor, the same round trip is priced similarly.

Those planning a round trip from Vancouver to Kelowna, BC on the same dates will save a few hundred bucks in comparison to those headed for Kamloops. For example, one round trip with WestJet from Vancouver to Kelowna — December 22-27 — is listed at $741 on Wednesday, although it includes a six-hour layover in Edmonton.

Normal flight times between the locales are 55 minutes.

Prices on WestJet’s website are comparable. On Air Canada’s site, all are currently sold out for the aforementioned dates and locations.

However, those travelling between Vancouver and Kelowna can find cheaper trips on Swoop if they fly out of Abbotsford, BC. On Wednesday morning, a non-stop round trip from Abbotsford to Kelowna, departing on December 22 and returning on December 29, is priced under $300.

Reid Small is a BC-based reporter for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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Top Ontario doc says separating vaxxed and unvaxxed best way to get COVID under control

Ontario has had more than 626,000 cases of COVID-19 which has left more than 10,000 people dead.

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One of the ways to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control is to stop “the mixing of unvaccinated and vaccinated,” says Ontario’s chief medical officer.

“Basic means of protecting individuals is stopping the mixing of unvaccinated and vaccinated,” said Dr. Kieran Moore at a Tuesday press conference.

“And if our cases continue through and after the holidays we would make recommendations of government to continue the certification process in play. But we’ll continue to review the data. We do have a very robust testing strategy in Ontario for the winter months as we’ve released previously. We’ve purchased … 11 million rapid antigen test for all students in Ontario.”

Moore was asked whether COVID-19 is “something we’re just going to have to learn to live with” and whether it would ever go away.

“We have a long ways to go with the World Health Organization and other international organizations to try to decrease the number of individuals in which this virus can mutate and/or spread,” he said.

“But I do see a time when we’ll have low, endemic rates and it will turn out to be like influenza or other winter respiratory viruses where there’s a seasonality to it, where it does have an intermittent impact on our health-care system and like influenza, you need an annual vaccine to protect against it.”

Ontario has had more than 626,000 cases of COVID-19 which has left more than 10,000 people dead.

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Trudeau’s beach denier demoted

Trudeau was photographed twice on a beach in Tofino after deciding to skip the first day of a holiday he created — the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.

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The Justin Trudeau spokesman who told reporters the prime minister “wasn’t on a beach” when he was, has been demoted, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Trudeau was photographed twice on a beach in Tofino after deciding to skip the first day of a holiday he created — the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.

Trudeau had promised to “set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government.”

Alex Wellstead will be “taking on new challenges” as press secretary to the industry minister, the Prime Minister’s Office said yesterday.  

Wellstead. Courtesy Twitter

Wellstead in a statement called it “a very difficult decision to make.” He had worked as Trudeau’s official spokesman for 20 months.

Wellstead on September 30 issued misleading statements to conceal the fact Trudeau spent the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at a beach resort in Tofino, B.C.

“He wasn’t on a beach,” Wellstead told The Canadian Press at the time. Global News and the weekly Chilliwack Progress photographed Trudeau strolling on the beach and enjoying a glass of beer on a beachfront patio.

The Prime Minister’s Office claimed Trudeau was in private meetings in Ottawa. Staff flew an Indian Residential School “survivors’ flag” and issued a solemn statement in Trudeau’s name.

“We remember the children who never made it home,” it said.

Wellstead did not explain his conduct.

“You as a communicator need to understand everything,” Wellstead said in a March 30 interview with public relations students at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont.

The prime minister in 2015 Ministerial Mandate letters said officials must be truthful and transparent.

“Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, are professionals who by asking necessary questions contribute in an important way to the democratic process,” wrote Trudeau.

“Your professionalism and engagement with them is essential.

“We have committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government. It is time to shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves.

“Government and its information should be open by default. If we want Canadians to trust their government, we need a government that trusts Canadians.

“It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them. Canadians do not expect us to be perfect. They expect us to be honest, open and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.”

Trudeau on October 6 apologized for the Tofino holiday.

“Traveling on September 30 was a mistake and I regret it,” the prime minister told reporters.

“What made you decide to take a personal trip on a day your government set aside to honour the victims and survivors of residential schools?” asked a reporter.

“Like I said, it was a mistake,” replied Trudeau.

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