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Member input informs analysis of legislation on local elections

June 26, 2020

Members who participated in AUMA’s June 18 virtual session overwhelmingly endorsed the association’s principles on local elections and a Request for Decision from the City of Grande Prairie on reserving local elections for local issues.

AUMA extends thanks to the 165 elected officials who participated in the session. Your engagement came just in time to inform AUMA’s input on legislative amendments introduced by the province this week, which could have significant impact on local elections.

Local Authorities Election Act

On June 23, the Minister of Municipal Affairs introduced Bill 29, the Local Authorities Election Amendment Act, 2020. AUMA is measuring amendments included in the Bill against the principles adopted by members and will bring forward any changes that are needed to protect municipalities and voters. Alberta’s municipalities need their own fair deal from the Government of Alberta – one that respects municipalities’ autonomy and the democratic process that gives municipal councils their mandate from Albertans. We have been assured by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs that they are willing to consider amendments to the bill that make local democracy more accountable.

Referendum and Senate Elections

On June 23, the Minister of Justice Introduced two bills:

  • Bill 26, the Constitution Referendum Amendment Act, 2020 – Currently the Constitutional Referendum Act only allows for referendums on constitutional questions. The proposed amendments would allow referendums on a wider range of matters, recommendations of the Fair Deal Panel (see the article on the Panel for more details). The province has indicated that some of these referendums will be held in conjunction with the 2021 municipal elections.
  • Bill 27, the Alberta Senate Election Amendment Act, 2020 provide the Minister of Municipal Affairs with the same directive-making powers the Minister has in municipal elections, when a Senate election is held in conjunction with a municipal election.

In addition to these bills, AUMA understands that later this session, the government will be introducing legislation providing for Citizen’s Initiatives (Referendums).

Referendums and senate elections are important venues for Albertans to express their views and exercise their democratic rights to representation. AUMA is disappointed that the province is moving ahead with plans to hold senate elections and referendums in conjunction with municipal elections. In March, AUMA and RMA sent a joint letter to the Minister of Justice expressing our concern that using local elections as a space for senate appointments and other significant province-wide issues would detract from local issues. Last week’s endorsement of the RFD reinforces the need for local elections to remain focused on local matters that deeply impact the everyday lives of our residents.

Please contact AUMA’s advocacy team at advocacy@auma.ca if you have any comments on the legislation or AUMA’s related advocacy.