Alberta government plans to table recall legislation for MLAs, local councils

Albertans may soon be able to recall MLAs, municipal councillors, mayors and school board trustees, the government said Tuesday in its throne speech.

The initiative is one of a number of changes outlined in the speech, read in the legislature by Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell. 

British Columbia has recall legislation but only for MLAs. If passed, the Alberta legislation would go further by affecting municipal councils and school boards. 

“This is a very important democratic reform tool that Albertans have long asked for,” Premier Jason Kenney said at a pre-speech news conference earlier in the day. 

“They will receive that through legislation introduced during this session.”

Plans include ‘blueprint’ for jobs

The throne speech sets out the government’s agenda for the second session of the 30th legislature, which opened Tuesday. Some items have been previously announced. Others are new. 

Throne speeches typically offer the broad strokes of what legislation the government plans to introduce, without offering many details. 

Kenney plans to roll out what he called a blueprint for jobs in the next few days, a long-term plan he said contains “a number of new initiatives” focused on job creation and economic growth. The 2020 capital plan which allocates $6.4 billion for infrastructure projects will be part of the jobs program. 

The government intends to replace the federal parole board with a homegrown version that will deal with provincial inmates, a promise made by the United Conservative Party during the 2019 election campaign. 

Other democratic reforms include legislating a requirement to hold a referendum before enacting a consumer carbon tax, and setting fixed dates for budgets and provincial elections. 

Current provincial legislation prescribes a three-month window in which an election can be called. 

The government wants to limit the amounts people can donate to third-party advertisers or political action committees (PACs) and ban contributions from foreign donors.

Tougher impaired driving laws

Other proposed bills would regulate vaping, set tougher penalties for impaired drivers and add protections for survivors of human trafficking. 

The government also wants to change the Vital Statistics Act to make it impossible for convicted sex offenders to legally change  their names. 

The Choice in Education Act will be introduced this session, which will affirm the right of parents to choose the types of schools they want their children to attend. 

With the 2020-21 provincial budget set to be released on Thursday, the throne speech offered a few clues about what to expect. 

The speech said the government will work with the public service “to contain costs and protect front-line services by carefully reducing overall spending by less than three per cent.” 

However, the government vowed to maintain or increase budgets for the ministries of Health, Education, Community and Social Services and Childrens’ Services.

The government confirmed it will continue its program to decrease surgical wait times, which involves moving some publicly funded procedures to privately run surgical facilities.

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