By the time you read this, our new Alberta government will already be elected. While opinion polls suggest a certain outcome, I’m terrible at predicting elections. A lot of the pollsters are too. When Stephen Harper won his first majority, polls suggested a minority was the best he could hope for. CBC was stating on election night he wouldn’t even get that.
Attending multiple election forums over the past few weeks, one topic continued to interest me: recall legislation.
In a nutshell, recall legislation is a law that allows the electorate to turf their representative who ignores or acts in a way opposite to what the electorate wishes (or what the candidate campaigned on).
I’ve always been a believer in say what you mean, do as you say. It’s frustrating in the political system we have that candidates can promise all kinds of different things during an election campaign, then once in office, they can act any way they wish for a few years. Until the next election, that is.
During the last provincial election, in 2015, I don’t remember much being said about a carbon tax begin introduced in Alberta if an NDP government was elected.
Even Global News, reporting in Feb., 2019, stated “The carbon tax as a specific mechanism was not included in the NDP’s platform leading up to the 2015 election. But the party did campaign on an environmental strategy and a promise to do something to address climate change.”
A couple of years ago I attended a Wetaskiwin Chamber of Commerce luncheon which featured guest speaker Ken Kobly, president and CEO of the Alberta Chamber of Commerce, the organization that represents business in Alberta, especially small to medium sized, and he impressed me with his blunt-speaking nature. During his presentation he said the carbon tax is, in essence, a sales tax, so that’s what it should be called. It applies to virtually everything a sales tax would apply to.
Again, no party campaigned on a sales tax in the 2015 election.
It baffles me that any politician thinks Albertans would be better off with less money in their pockets, and to do this during the ongoing economic malaise in the province…you would think the top people in the provincial government would be getting better advice than this.
Elected officials who want to bring in something as controversial, divisive and economically damaging as a so-called “carbon tax” must clearly and honestly campaign on that issue. Explain it fully to the electorate and own it so voters know what they’re getting when they cast their ballot.
But as we’ve seen, that’s not always how such issues are handled.
If you want power in Alberta but you’re not willing to be honest, forthright and accountable, the electorate should have the ability to remove from office dishonest politicians.
Hence, recall legislation should be on the new government’s “to do” list over the next four years.
Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the newspaper.