Taxpayers Federation calls on parties to commit to recall legislation if elected

Author: Franco Terrazzano 2019/01/09

CALGARY, AB: Today, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) called on all Alberta political parties to commit to implementing recall legislation – applying to both politicians and bills – if elected in the 2019 provincial election. The province’s recall legislation can build on examples from around the world, but the CTF is proposing Alberta’s model include three core elements:

  1. Allow citizens to force a by-election;
  2. Allow citizens to initiate a referendum to repeal, amend or propose legislation; and
  3. Apply the recall legislation at the municipal level.

“Instead of waiting every four years for an election, Albertans should have greater ability to remove a politician or piece of legislation that go against our wishes,” said CTF’s Alberta Director Franco Terrazzano. “By building on models used around the world, Alberta’s recall legislation can improve accountability, enhance checks and balances and, most importantly, reaffirm the role of the citizen as the boss.”

Through British Columbia's Recall and Initiative Act voters are able to initiate by-elections and propose laws. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states plus the District of Columbia permit the recall of state officials. Furthermore, 29 states allow recall elections to be held in local jurisdictions. Similar to B.C., there are 24 U.S. states that offer an avenue for citizens to propose a statute. According to the Routledge Handbook to Referendums and Direct Democracy, there are 25 countries that currently have legal provisions to activate citizen-led recall.

Examples of situations where recall legislation could have been useful in Alberta include:

  • Premier Alison Redford’s frivolous expenses, including her $45,000 South Africa trip;
  • Lethbridge city councillor Darlene Heatherington who was charged for fabricating a stalker (and abduction in the U.S.), but refused to step down; and,
  • Alberta government’s introduction of the carbon tax that was not included in the party platform.

“Politicians who strive to do right by their constituents should support this legislation,” said Terrazzano. “Given incidents in Alberta’s past, recall legislation would be a welcomed protection for citizens against politicians who take advantage of tax dollars, break promises or go against the will of the people.”