Saturday, April 14, 2012

Alberta Political Parties: 2008 Democracy Reform Platforms Compared to 2012 Platforms

Alberta Party

2008:

It is existed as a different entity, and therefore, the FDA does not show the 2008 democracy reform platforms.

2012:

The Alberta Party's platform on democratic reform is made up of the following: increased public engagement for the budget and major decisions; abolish the Public Affairs Bureau; increased engagement of MLAs with their constituents; an increase in the number of free votes; a ten-year limit on the Premier's term; fixed election dates; decreased tax exemptions for, and increased transparency of MLA salaries, which will be determined by an independent committee; a decrease in contribution limits to candidates and parties; a decrease on candidate and party expenditure limits; more advance polls; disclosure of contribution information prior to election
day (Alberta Party, 2012).

Notable fact: The Alberta Party and the Alberta NDP are the only 2012 parties to propose limits on campaign expenditures.


Alberta Liberal Party

2008:

Establish fixed election dates.
Create a citizen's assembly on electoral reform to study other voting systems.
Reform election finance laws.
Enact whistle blower legislation.
Eliminate Public Affairs Bureau and replace with a non-partisan government
communications service (2008 Alberta Liberal Party Democracy Reform Platform; retrieved from the Alberta Liberal website in 2008).

2012:

The Alberta Liberal Party's platform on democratic reform is made up of the following:
all votes in the legislature by MLAs would be free votes, except when the vote concerns their platform; a reduction in the total number of MLAs; a simplified MLA pay structure; the introduction of recall elections; candidate leave legislation, in order to make running as a candidate easier; instant run-off elections; increased transparency of government contract issuing; increased accessibility of government finance documents; fixed election dates; and the disbanding of the Public Affairs Bureau (Alberta Liberal Party, 2012). In the last week of the 2012 election campaign, the Alberta Liberal party announces its support for preferential voting.

Notable facts: In 2012, the Alberta Liberal Party has dropped a citizen's assembly on electoral reform and reform of electoral finance laws, and it has added free votes for MLAs, restructure of aspects of the Alberta legislature, recall elections, instant run-off elections, and increased government transparency. The Alberta Liberal Party is the only party to support preferential voting.


Alberta NDP:

2008:

Prohibit political donations from corporations and unions to political parties. Table legislation binding all leadership and nomination contests to the same disclosure rules and donation limits of federal political parties (2008 Alberta NDP Democracy Reform Platform; retrieved from the Alberta NDP website in 2008).

2012:

The Alberta's New Democratic Party's platform on democratic reforms is made up of the following: the requirement of leadership candidates to disclose contributors; banning corporate and union donations to political parties; a set campaign expenditure limit; introducing proportional representation; abolish the Senate; decreased funding to the Public Affairs Bureau; ensuring the Public Affairs Bureau is non-partisan; making Freedom of Information and Privacy requests faster and less expensive; and the creation of a Status of Women minister (Alberta's New Democratic Party, 2012a, 2012b).

Notable facts: The Alberta NDP is the only Alberta party (in both 2008 and 2012) to ban corporations and trade unions from making electoral contributions. In addition, the Alberta NDP and Alberta Party are the only parties to limit campaign expenditures. The limit on campaign expenditures is a new 2012 policy of the Alberta NDP. The 2008 policy of disclosure of leadership contests and contribution limits on federal parties are now part of Alberta law, and consequently the Alberta party has dropped that policy in 2012. Further, unlike in 2008, the Alberta NDP now supports proportional representation and no Alberta Senate.


Alberta Social Credit Party:

2008:

6.1 Representative Democracy: The Alberta Social Credit Party supports representative democracy.
6.2 Free Votes: The Alberta Social Credit Government would institute free votes in the Legislature for MLA's. MLA's would vote according to their conscience or as indicated by the constituents through the constituency organization. Should a government bill be defeated, it would not mean a vote of non-confidence for the government but simply a defeat of that particular piece of legislation. The Alberta Social Credit Party supports free votes within the Social Credit caucus. The party position would be determined by a simple majority of the MLA's casting a vote.
6.3 Recall of MLA: The Alberta Social Credit Government would institute the right of recall of all elected officials by their constituents.
6.4 Fixed Election Dates: The Alberta Social Credit Government would institute fixed election dates for all elected officials in Alberta. MLA's would be elected for a four (4) year term. The right of the Legislature to call a vote of non-confidence in the government would still be in force.
6.5 Fixed Dates for Sessions: The Alberta Social Credit Government would institute a program whereby Throne Speeches, Budget Announcements and Legislative dates would be on a set date each year.
6.6 Cabinet Size: The Alberta Social Credit Government would reduce the size of the Provincial Cabinet.
6.7 Open Employment Applications: The Alberta Social Credit Party would institute an open application process to fill all government positions and all hiring would be based upon qualifications and merit rather than patronage.
6.9 Establishing Provincial Senate: The Social Credit government create and develop anti-cameral systems consisting of; a Lieutenant Governor, a Provincial Legislature, and the creation of a Provincial Senate. The Provincial Senate having equivalent powers to that of the Federal Senate.
6.10 Election of Commissions and Boards: The Alberta Social Credit Government would institute elections for all provincial boards and commissions every four years in conjunction with provincial legislative elections.
6.11 Conflict Of Interest: The Alberta Social Credit Government would institute strict conflict of interest guidelines facilitated through the Provincial Ethics Commissioner's office.
6.12 Constitutional Reform: The Alberta Social Credit Party supports popular ratification of all Constitutional Amendments by a simple majority vote in at least 2/3 of all the provinces (including the Territories) and representing at least 50% of the country's population in a national referendum.
6.17 Freedom Of Information: The Alberta Social Credit Government would institute the most comprehensive Freedom of Information Act in Canada which would open government dealings to all people.
6.18 Mandatory Tendering:
The Alberta Social Credit Government would institute a procurement policy whereby all major purchases by the government would be through an open tender process.
6.19 M.L.A. Salaries: The Alberta Social Credit Government would institute a reduction in the salaries of Cabinet Ministers and the Premier. The Alberta Social Credit Government would remove all tax-free allowances to MLA's.
6.19.1 M.L.A. and Government Executive salaries: The Social Credit Government would implement wage control on salaries and bonuses so that they will not increase beyond 50% of the rate of the Alberta Provincial annual inflation rate. A revaluation of salaries will be undertaken based on national averages prior to the removal of tax-free allowances.
6.22 Referenda: The Social Credit Government would strip the power from the few and put it where it belongs, with the many. A system will be established where the most important issues of the day will be decided by the electors in an annual binding referendum.
All resolutions or issues that suggest or require a referendum from Albertans must undergo the same process as all other referendum questions, including the gathering of signatures.
6.23 Senate Reform: The Alberta Social Credit Party endorses the concept of a "Triple E" Senate with effective parliamentary powers that is elected by the people of each province with equal representation from each province.
6.24 Vote of Non-Confidence: The Alberta Social Credit Government would allow for the defeat of a government through a proclaimed vote of non-confidence in the Legislature and not through the mere defeat of a bill.
6.25 Proportional Representation: The Alberta Social Credit Government endorses an electoral system where the percentage of the popular vote determines the percentage of seats held in the legislature.
6.26 Term Limit: The Social Credit Government would establish an electoral restriction where the Premier can serve a maximum of (2) two terms (2008 Alberta Social Credit Reform Platform; retrieved from the Alberta Social Credit website in 2008).

2012:

The Alberta Social Credit Party's platform on democratic reforms is made up of the following:
the introduction of free votes, recall elections, a Provincial Senate and set dates for election and sessions; a reduction in the size of the cabinet; an opposition to treating any recognizable group with a unique status; the creation of an Alberta constitution; a comprehensive Freedom of Information Act to increase government transparency; open tender for all major government Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 Alberta Parties' Democracy Reform Platforms purchases; increased regulation and reduction of MLA remuneration; a referendum from the electorate for the most important issues; the introduction of a specific vote of non-confidence allowing the defeat of the government; proportional representation; a term limit for Premiers of two years; and disallowing non-Albertan lobbyists (The Alberta Social Credit Party, 2011).

Notable Facts: The Alberta Social Credits have the same democracy reform platforms in 2012 as in 2008. The Alberta Social Credits have extensive reform of the legislative processes, and some reform of the Alberta Election Act, through adoption of proportional representation, and citizen recall and referendum initiatives.


Communist Party of Alberta

2008:

Proportional representation: make every vote Count.
Public funding of all parties (2008 Communist Party--Alberta Reform Platform; retrieved from the Communist Party--Alberta's website in 2008).

2012:

The Communist Party - Alberta's platform on democratic reform is made up of the following:
proportional representation and public funding of all parties (Communist Party--Alberta, 2008). The FDA could not find an updated democracy reform platform for the Communist Party--Alberta.

Notable facts: The Communist Party--Alberta is only Alberta party that supports public subsidies for political parties.


EverGreen Party of Alberta

2008:

The EverGreen Party of Alberta existed as the Green Party of Alberta. The members of the 2012 EverGreen Party are primarily the same as the 2008 Green Party.

Fix election dates:
The time of opportunistic votes is over. The people of Alberta, in order to be fully prepared, must have
knowledge of when the election season is to begin, and time to learn the platforms and policies of their
parties. If we are to have an informed electorate we must give them a reasonable time frame within which
to educate themselves.

Establish right of recall
The tradition of voting once, and then expecting the voters to accept all decisions their elected officials
make, is undemocratic. In today’s fast-paced market, the electors’ deserve the right to recall ineffective or
unsupported politicians….we need the best people for the job, and if those hired are not doing their duty, we
must be able to elect better people.

2012:

The EverGreen Party of Alberta's platform on democracy reform is made up of the following: an increase in session length to 75 days per year; increased access to most government information; the establishment of an independent process for defining electoral boundaries; a move towards proportional representation; seats on committees granted based on popular vote; and fixed election dates (EverGreen Party of Alberta, 2012).

Notable facts: The EverGreen Party is the only party to support seats on committees based on popular support. (The FDA supports this policy in its 2012 Alberta Electoral Report.) In addition, the EverGreen Party is one of five Alberta parties to support proportional representation. In 2008, EverGreen Party supported right of recall, and in 2012, its platform does not mentioned right of recall. In both 2008 and 2012, the EverGreen Party supports fixed election dates.


Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta:

2008:

No platform or specific policies regarding democracy reform could be found for The Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta.

2012:

No platform or specific policies regarding democracy reform could be found for The Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta.

Notable fact: The PC Party of Alberta is the only Alberta party in 2008 and 2012 to have no policy on Alberta democracy reform.


Separation Party of Alberta

2008:

1. RECALL, CITIZEN INITIATIVE AND REFERENDA.
This legislation will be all-encompassing under the heading RECALL, CITIZEN INITIATIVE AND REFERENDA.
(a) We believe that all elected representatives and bureaucrats must be fully accountable to their electorate through mandated, workable and effective provisions entitling the electorate to RECALL them;
(b) The Separation Party of Alberta will implement legislation allowing Albertans to
INITIATE legislation, or repeal existing legislation, by petition at all levels of government; and
(c) The Separation Party of Alberta will implement legislation that empowers Albertans to decide by REFERENDUM, initiated by the government or the electorate, on all controversial issues and disputes affecting Albertans as a whole, to be decided at the time of a General Election or a special referendum as required.
2. Fixed election dates/fixed terms.
The Separation Party of Alberta will initiate fixed election dates for all elections. Members of the Legislature will be elected for a 5 year term on the 1st Monday of November. The term of any member to the Legislature will be limited to 10 years.
3. Proportional representation.
The Separation Party of Alberta will implement legislation, after public consultation, on voting reform providing for a system of proportional representation which more accurately reflects the voting patterns of all eligible voters (2008 Separation Party of Alberta Reform Platform; retrieved from the Separation Party of Alberta's website in 2008).

2012:

The Separation Party of Alberta's platform on democracy reform is made up of the following:
recall elections for representatives; the ability for citizens to initiate legislation through petition; referendums for controversial and Alberta-wide issues, including one on separation from Canada; fixed election dates; proportional representation; the establishment of all votes in the Legislature becoming free votes, in accordance first with the MLAs constituents and secondly, with their own conscience; a reduction in the number of MLAs, government boards and departments
(Separation Party of Alberta, 2008).

Notable facts: The Separation of Alberta has the same democracy reform platform in 2008 as 2012. The Separation Party of Alberta is one of five Alberta parties that support proportional representation.


Wildrose Alliance of Alberta:

2008:

A Wildrose Alliance Government will institute fixed election dates for all elected officials in Alberta. MLAs will be elected to a four (4) year term. The Legislative Assembly will be able to call a vote of non-confidence at any time.

A Wildrose Alliance Government will institute a Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform to assess all possible models for electing MLAs, including preferential ballots, proportional representation and our current electoral system. If the assembly recommends changes to the current electoral system the proposed changes will be put to a provincewide referendum.

A Wildrose Alliance Government will set the maximum number of terms that a Premier can serve to two consecutive four-year terms (2008 Wildrose Alliance Party Reform Platform; retrieved from the Wildrose Alliance Party's website in 2008).

2012:

The Wildrose Alliance party's platform on democracy reform is made up of the following:
establishing that all votes in the legislature be transparent free votes; establishing recall elections and referendums where this a high support for either; fixed dates for general and senate elections, as well as Legislative sessions; increased access to Freedom of Information requests, finances of Crown corporations and government investments; an independent review process for Cabinet and MLA pay and benefits; increased transparency for government budgets and expenditures; increased funding for opposition parties' research and communications, as well as increased opportunities to propose legislative amendments, access departmental documents and question the Premier and Ministers regarding their stewardship; and a reduction in partisanship and increase in fairness and impartiality to opposition parties by the Speaker's office (Wildrose Alliance Caucus, 2011).

Notable facts: In 2008, the Wildrose Alliance Party supported a citizen's assembly on proportional representation, and now in 2012, the Wildrose Alliance does not support a citizen's assembly on proportional representation. In 2008, the Wildrose Alliance Party supported a maximum two year terms for the premier, and now in 2012, the Wildrose Alliance has dropped that policy. In 2012, the Wildrose Alliance Party has added free legislative votes to its democracy reform platform.


FDA Power Point at the FDA Public Forum on Alberta Democracy Reform

2012 Alberta Parties' Democracy Reform Platforms

2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on Alberta

2012 FDA Canadian Provinces' Electoral Finance Report

April 17: FDA Public Forum on Alberta Democracy Reform

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