Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Alberta PC Party Isolated

Map of Canada; Alberta is the second most western province. Alberta is infamous for the tar sands which depending on one's view is one of the largest and most advanced modern industrial projects or the project in the world which has done (and continues to do) the most devastating harm to the environment.
Echoing the recommendations of the Foundation for Democratic Advancement, the Wildrose Alliance Party at a recent party convention is now saying that corporations and labour unions should be banned from making contributions. Also, caps on contributions should be reduced in non-election years to $5,000 and $10,000 in election years. The FDA supports lower caps which are reflective of Alberta's per capita income of $35,250 (Statistics Canada, 2011): $7,000 in election years and $4,000 in non-election years. (Quebec as an example caps contributions at $1,000.)

The Alberta Liberals now support a cap on contributions at $1,100 and ban on corporations and labour unions from making contributions. (The Alberta Liberals copied federal legislation on these issues.)

In 2012, the Alberta NDP campaigned on a ban corporations and labour unions from making contributions, lower caps on contributions and campaign expenditure limits.

Both the Alberta Liberals and Wildrose ignore campaign expenditure limits and proportional representation.

All Alberta political parties ignore regulation of the media during the campaign period.

In 2008 and 2012, the Alberta PC Party had no democracy reform platform.

In 2008, the Wildrose campaigned on proportional representation, and in 2012, the Wildrose dropped proportional representation from its platform.

With the PC Party having a majority of the Alberta Legislature, there is no way to pass legislation on lower caps on contributions and a ban on corporations and labour unions without the support of the PC Party. The PC Party has shown no interest in making significant reforms to the provincial electoral system, as Premier Redford said recently that there is nothing wrong with the system. It will be interesting to see if the Wildrose Party campaigns on a ban on contributions from corporations and labour unions and lower contribution caps in the next provincial election.

In March of 2012, executive summaries of the FDA's Report on Alberta's Electoral System were mailed to the leaders of all Alberta parties. Upon request, a hard copy of the report was mailed to the Alberta Liberta party.

The FDA recommendations on the Alberta Electoral System:

The FDA believes that the Alberta provincial electoral system requires significant reform from bordering a failed state. The FDA outlines below what it thinks are necessary reforms that need to take place:

Electoral Finance:

1) The caps on contributions to parties need to be reduced from $15,000 in non-election years to about $4,000 and from $30,000 in election years to about $7,000 in election years.

(FDA calculations are from the electoral finance audit section under Caps on Contributions to Candidates and Parties based on Alberta per capita income levels and income inequality data. Canada at the federal level has a $1,000 cap on contributions to candidates, and France has a €4,600 Euro cap (about $6,200 CAD) cap during the campaign period and €7,500 Euro cap (about $10,100 CAD) during non-election periods (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Reports on Canada and France, 2011).)

2) Contributions from corporations/unions and third party electoral spending to candidates, parties, and constituency associations should not be allowed.

(FDA believes that the 'will of the people', the basis for democracy, is exclusively about citizens; corporations/unions are not citizens in terms of the democratic concept of 'one person, one vote'; corporations/unions are not people. Also, by removing corporations/unions from electoral finance, would help prevent wealthy elements in society from having disproportionate impact on electoral discourse. In the following countries, for example, corporations/unions cannot make electoral contributions: Canada and France at the federal levels of government (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Reports on Canada and France, 2011).)

3) Expenditure limits need to be placed on candidate and party campaign expenditures. The number of candidates running, size of electoral divisions, and financial capabilities of candidates, parties, and constituency associations should determine the limits. The expenditure limits need to be reasonably attainable by all registered candidates, parties, and constituency associations.

(The Canadian federal electoral system has expenditure limits. FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on Canada (2011). However, expenditure limits are a mute point if they still produce significant inequity in electoral expenditures. Canada has no measures such as public subsidies based on the financial need of all registered parties that would ensure fair and equitable campaign expenditures. In addition, Canadian established federal parties are favored through public subsidies based on the number of seats won. A party with large popular support and no seats won will receive no public subsidies. In France, there are candidate expenditure limits, and if candidates attain at least 5 percent of the popular vote in their constituency, it receives back 50 percent of their campaign expenditures. Also, there are public subsidies available for new political parties (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on France, 2011).)

4) Public subsidies need to be available to small and new parties based on reasonable popular support and to larger parties based on reasonable popular support and need.

(France has public subsidies for new political parties based on level of contributions and electoral official support. Also, public subsidies are available to parties that receive at least 1 percent of the popular vote, and campaign expenditures for candidates are refunded by 50 percent if at least 5 percent of the popular vote is attained (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on France, 2011).)

Media Political Content:

5) Media needs to be required to publish and broadcast impartial and balanced electoral coverage during the campaign period, in order to help ensure balanced electoral discourse and foster an informed electorate.

(Venezuela has constitutional and legislative requirements that the media's electoral content must be fair and balanced (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on Venezuela, 2011).)

6) Media needs to be required to publish and broadcast pluralistic and balanced political coverage outside of the campaign period, in order to encourage balanced political discourse and produce an informed electorate.

(Venezuela has constitutional and legislative requirements that the media's electoral content must be fair and balanced (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on Venezuela, 2011).)

7) Effective media ownership concentration laws need to be applied to all sectors of the Alberta media, in order to encourage a pluralistic media.

(France, Norway, and Bolivia for example have media ownership concentration laws. Bolivia requires that media ownership concentration conform to the following ratio: 1/3 private, 1/3 government, 1/3 social and indigenous groups and Bolivia has constitutional laws prohibiting monopolies and oligopolies (FDA Global Electoral Audit Reports on France, Norway, and Bolivia, 2011).)

Candidates and Parties:

8) The media needs to be required to charge equal electoral advertisement rates to all registered candidates and parties.

(The US federal electoral system requires that candidate and parties have equal access to media for electoral advertisement and equal cost of electoral advertisements (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on the USA, 2011).)

9) An open list proportional based system should determine winners of electoral districts. This system allows for representation of the popular vote as opposed to the first-past-the-post system. (Strong popular support represents a proportionally represented government, whereby the party in power deserves majority control of an Assembly.)

(Norway and Sweden have an open list, Sainte-Laguë’s modified method proportional based electoral systems (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Reports on Norway and Sweden, 2011).)

10) Government process reform should require the winning party and its cabinet base the passage of legislation on at least 50 percent of popular support (in terms of elected officials’ actual voter support) in the previous election, rather than legislative dominance (FDA reform initiative, 2012).

11) In order for the people of Alberta to remove corrupt political representatives and have a direct say in government policy, policy referendum and recall legislation needs to be established.

(Bolivia provides a model for these referendum processes: popular initiative referendum for issues such autonomous regions, constitutional reform, international treaties etc., and revocation candidate/party mandate referendum (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report on Bolivia, 2011).)


12) A comprehensive inquiry needs to be implemented which identifies minorities in Alberta and the extent to which their views are represented in the Alberta Legislature. If the Alberta Legislature does not represent some minorities, the system should take measures to ensure their representation including guaranteed seats in the Assembly.

(New Zealand has guaranteed parliamentary seats for the Maori population; Norway has a separate parliament for the Sami population; Syria has guaranteed parliamentary seats based on gender and occupation; and Iraq has guaranteed seats for women and religious minorities (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Reports on New Zealand, Norway, Syria, and Iraq, 2011).)

The FDA believes that these reforms if implemented will help return Alberta to the people of Alberta, and allow Albertans to realize their individual and collective potential through freedom, fairness, and equal opportunity for all.

Mr. Stephen Garvey, Foundation for Democratic Advancement, Executive Director

2012 FDA Report on the Alberta Electoral System

PC Party's Tabled Reforms

Alberta Bill Fails to Clarify Rules on Single Large Political Donations

Question for Readers:

Will the Alberta PC Party succumb to the pressure to legislate a fair and equatable electoral system?

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