Choosing a new mayor, council and school trustees is only part of the many decisions Central Alberta voters will face on Oct. 18.
Questions about equalization and the annual time change will also be on the municipal election ballot — as well as a choice of prospective senate candidates.
Perhaps the easiest referendum query will be answering yes or no to: “Do you want Alberta to adopt year-round Daylight Saving Time, which is summer hours, eliminating the need to change our clocks twice a year?”
If the majority of Albertans vote yes, then provincial government could decide to stick to Daylight Savings Time year-round. B.C.’s legislature was given this mandate in 2019, but is waiting for U.S. States in the same time zone to follow suit.
Not changing clocks back and forth already happens in Saskatchewan. That province which remains on Central Standard Time (CST) all year long.
The second referendum question can seem more baffling: “Should section 36(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982 – Parliament and the government of Canada’s commitment to the principle of making equalization payments – be removed from the constitution?”
Equalization payments are an unconditional transfer of funds by the federal government from provinces with above-average revenues to provinces with below-average revenues, on a per capita basis. This is to ensure that all provincial governments provide comparable levels of service and taxation.
Alberta has no power to unilaterally change equalization. But Premier Jason Kenney is still putting this question to electors because he feels Alberta isn’t getting a fair deal, especially given fallen oil revenues.
“I’ve always said that a yes vote on the principle of equalization does not automatically change equalization, it doesn’t remove it from the Constitution,” Kenney previously stated. “What it does is to elevate Alberta’s fight for fairness to the top of the national agenda, in a sense, it takes a page out of Quebec’s playbook.”
Besides the two referendum questions, electors will also have 13 prospective senate candidates to choose from on the Oct. 18 ballot.
Voters can endorse up to three of them, said Red Deer’s returning officer Samantha Rodwell.
Canada has an unelected senate — which the Alberta government feels is undemocratic. So since 1989, Alberta has held senate elections. Winners’ names have been put forward to the federal government for consideration for senate appointments.
When a federal Conservative government was in power, Alberta senate election winners were appointed to the federal Senate. But when the Liberals have held power — as they do now — Alberta’s elected Senate hopefuls have been left waiting in the wings.
Regardless, there will be 13 possible senators-in-waiting to choose from on the ballot. They are: Erika Barootes, Conservative Party of Canada, Rick Bonnett, Independent, Pam Davidson, Conservative Party of Canada, Doug. A Horner, Independent, Duncan Kinney, Independent, Kelly Lorencz, People’s Party of Canada, Mykhailo Martyniouk, Conservative Party of Canada, Ann McCormack, People’s Party of Canada, Jeff Nielsen, Independent, Karina Pillay, Independent, Chad Jett Thunders Saunders, Independent, Sunuk Sookram, Independent, Nadine R. Wellwood, People’s Party of Canada.
Each nominees had to be at least 30 years old, a born or naturalized “subject of the Queen,” and a resident of Alberta for at least six months prior to the election. They cannot be an MP, an MLA nor an inmate.
Whether endorsed by a political party, or running as independents, senate candidates must collect 500 signatures from Alberta electors in support of their nomination. Also, a $4,000 candidate nomination deposit must be filed with Elections Alberta, which will determine whether candidates are eligible to officially put their names on the ballot.
Senate candidates must reveal donations to their campaign through financial reporting obligations to Elections Alberta.
Note: This story was updated to reflect that Saskatchewan remains on Central Standard Time (CST) all year long.