Outgoing Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett is running as a candidate for the Senate of Canada as an independent in the upcoming municipal election.
“Rick is passionate about the role that governments have in the shaping of our Canadian way of life and as a result, has made politics his primary focus in life. He possesses strong ethics and values and that is instrumental in adhering to the principles and standards of everyday public life,” reads a statement on his website, rickbonnettforsenate.ca.
Bonnett is “is aspiring to take on the role of a senator where he can exercise his practical and independent views in the Canadian legislative process.”
Along with the municipal elections on Oct. 18, voters can elect three nominees for the Senate. (Two are for the current vacancies and one is in the event of early retirement.)
The Alberta government then makes a recommendation to the federal government for future Senate appointments. Senators are ultimately appointed by the Prime Minister of Canada.
“I firmly believe that all senators should be elected from each of the provinces so the public ultimately has a say in who they would like to be represented by in Ottawa,” said Bonnett.
Bonnett says Alberta is currently the only province that tries to elect a senator to represent them, by having the nominees chosen by voters.
“I think we need to start to have Alberta lead to change that.”
Bonnett says all senators should be independent and should not be affiliated with any “mainstream political party.”
“This would ensure that the sober second thought is authentic in the legislation process,” he said.
“No party should have a senator they can call up.”
Bonnett added that a senator needs to look at bills with the goal of ensuring they are good enough for the public, not for “the government of the day.”
Bonnett also says all senators should have a term limit of no more than 15 years.
“This process would allow for more of the public to be engaged in the Senate process. Currently any senator can serve without leaving until the age of 75.”
Limited terms would ensure there are “new ideas and new people all the time,” he said.
Bonnett believes the Senate is currently under-utilized.
“They don’t use the Senate like they should,” he said.
Bonnett says he tentatively decided to run for Senate when the provincial government made the announcement that the standard election would coincide with the municipal election.
Bonnett served two terms as the mayor of Ponoka and one as town councillor. He will continue to serve as the mayor of Ponoka until 9 a.m. on Oct. 18, when he will be considered to be retired from the position.
He says his philosophy has always been to serve two terms in any position and then “step up or step out,” so it was time to move on to the next stage of his political career.
“Everyone get out and vote (on Oct. 18).”
The official announcement of the provincial referendum results will take place on Oct. 26, 2021.
How this election is different
Elections Alberta recently launched an information campaign in an effort to explain to Albertans how this municipal election is different than usual.
The 2021 election is the first time since 1998 that a provincial vote was conducted at the same time as the local municipal and school board votes.
“The Senate nominee election enhances democracy in the province by allowing Albertans to choose the individuals who will best represent them in Parliament,” stated a press release from the Government of Alberta.
“Having representatives elected by Albertans would increase senators’ accountability to Alberta voters to defend the province’s interests.”
Besides the Senate election, this election will also include two referendum questions on election ballots.
The referendum questions are:
– Equalization payments. Should the principle of making equalization payments be removed from the Constitution?
– Daylight saving time. Should Alberta end the practice of changing our clocks twice a year?
The Voter Information Centre is available to answer questions about the senate election and referendum vote on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call toll free at 1-877-422-8683.
Voting dates and locations
Town of Ponoka residents can vote from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day, Oct. 18, at the Royal Canadian Legion (3911 Highway 2A).
Advance voting will be held on the third floor of the Ponoka Civic Centre (5604 50 St.) on Oct. 13 from 2 to 8 p.m and Oct. 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Institutional voting will take place in Ponoka on Oct. 13.
For more information, visit www.ponoka.ca and click on ‘Election 2021.’
The advance poll date for Ponoka County residents is Oct. 16.
For a list of polling stations, visit www.ponokacounty.com/election-2021.