UCP to amend parts of Bill 20

by MorinvilleNews.com Staff

Through Bill 20, Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act, 2024, the Government of Alberta is proposing measures it says will enhance transparency and fairness in local elections and governance.

The Bill aims to eliminate electronic voting machines, allow political parties in pilot projects for Edmonton and Calgary municipal elections, give municipalities the opportunity to mandate criminal record checks for candidates, and introduce orientation training for councillors. Additionally, the Bill would give cabinet the ability to remove Mayors and councillors from office. Critics argue against introducing political parties and removing councillors at the cabinet level at the municipal level, emphasizing the importance of local autonomy and funding for community needs.

On May 2,  Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver issued a statement outlining the government’s intention to amend the Act, reiterating that The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act, 2024 would make the local election processes more transparent and local elected officials more accountable to the people they represent.

“Albertans deserve to have faith in the local officials elected to represent them. When a councillor has betrayed the public trust and it’s in the public interest to remove them, swift action should be taken to remove them,” McIver said. “As municipal councillors and mayors are locally elected by their constituents, Alberta’s government recognizes this authority should only be used as a last resort, which was always the intent of this legislation.”

To that end, McIver said the government will be working with municipalities to propose amendments to the legislation and clarify removal of an elected official would only be used in very limited circumstances.

Another controversial aspect of the proposed legislation is the ability for cabinet to amend municipal bylaws.

“This is quite serious, and we would not do this lightly,” McIver added. “We will also be working with municipalities to propose amendments for the legislation and clarify that this would only be used in very limited circumstances related to areas that are primarily overseen by the province, like health care, education, the provincial economy or public safety.”

“The role of an elected official is one with tremendous responsibility and expectations. The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act will strengthen the accountability of locally elected officials and councils while balancing the need to support local autonomy in areas of municipal oversight,” McIver said.

But Alberta NDP Critic for Municipalities Kyle Kasawski feels the Act and the amendments are less than transparent.

“After two days of backtracking, Danielle Smith and the UCP are feeling the heat from Albertans who’ve had enough of their ideological agenda,” Kasawski said. “Yesterday, they backtracked on the cruel removal of support for low-income Albertans’ transit passes and today they’re backtracking on Bill 20.

“The UCP’s gatekeeper-in-chief still wants the ability to fire municipal officials who have been elected by Albertans, and to repeal municipal bylaws if they don’t meet with her approval. Bill 20 is a threat to our democracy. The UCP needs to acknowledge that it is too flawed to amend and withdraw it entirely.”

Kasawski called the Bill another example of Premier Danielle Smith’s “made-in-Alberta authoritarian approach to governing.”

“The UCP wants to control everything, whether it be our universities, schools, health care, police force, pensions and now municipal councils,” Kasawski said.



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