Alberta’s new MLA recall bill: voters to vote to hold another vote

If the new bill is passed, elected MLAs can be recalled, but the process is kind of convoluted.

Last week, Alberta’s premier Jason Kenney and its justice minister Kaycee Madu presented Bill 52, The Recall Act, which they framed as fulfilling an election promise.

If passed, the new act would allow voters to recall elected officials, including MLAs, municipal officers (such as mayors, reeves, and councillors), and school board trustees.

Anyone wanting to initiate recall would need to have lived in the constituency for at least 3 months before the election and would have to wait at least 18 months after the elected official was voted in. Once the waiting period has passed, eligible person would start the process by applying to the appropriate electoral officer for a petition.

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MLAChief electoral officer
Municipal officialChief administrative officer
School boardSecretary of school board

Once the elector has the petition, they’d have 60 days to gather signature from at least 40% of eligible voters within the corresponding constituency for MLAs and municipal officials and 120 days for school board trustees.

After the completed petition is submitted, Elections Alberta would verify the signatures through a random statistical sampling method with a 95% confidence level.

If the recall petition is successful, municipal officials would be removed once the petition is presented at a city council meeting. It would be effective immediately for school board officials.

For MLA recall petitions, it’s a bit more complicated.

If the petition of 40% of voters to recall an MLA is successful, Elections Alberta post the results of the petition on their website within 7 days. Then they would hold an election with 6 months; however, this election would be for constituents to vote on whether the MLA should actually be removed.

If at least 50% of those who participate in that vote choose to follow through with the recall, then the MLA will be removed and Elections Alberta would hold yet another election—a byelection—when voters would choose a replacement MLA.

Then recalled MLA can run in the byelection (provided they’re still eligible for nomination under the Election Act).

The proposed recall act allows for fundraising and advertising by political action committees regarding recall votes. Any organization that spends or receives—or plans to spend or receive—at least $1000 or receives will have to register as a “third party advertiser”.

To be eligible for a PAC, corporations, individuals, unions, or other groups must be Alberta based. Registered charities cannot operate as a PAC.

Watch the press conference here:

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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