Bill 52, the Recall Act, if passed, will allow Albertans to initiate a process that could lead to removing and replacing elected officials including members of the legislative assembly (MLAs), municipal officials and school trustees during their term.
Under the proposed Recall Act, recall of an elected official becomes an option 18 months after the respective provincial, municipal or school board election.
Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner witnessed firsthand the development of this bill.
MLA Horner sat on the Select Special Democratic Accountability Committee as deputy chair which provided a large number of options for the province to choose from following public consultations on this recall bill and the citizens initiative act held in 2020.
“They were tasked with doing a full cross-jurisdictional comparison of other places and jurisdictions that had recall, had citizens initiatives referendums.
“So a lot of hours were put in in the committee room talking to stakeholders, getting feedback, looking at how it works in other jurisdictions.”
Horner highlighted the connection between this bill and Bill 51, the Citizens Initiative Act.
The bills focus on provincial and federal issues; one that deals with the constitution and the other with provincial issues.
With reference to the need for 10 per cent of eligible voter signatures across the province, petitions must pertain to anything within the province’s purview.
A hot topic in the province lately is the possibility of a provincial police force, replacing the RCMP.
This could be an example of one way to leverage petitioners on an issue that is important to them.
“The province can, on its own, let their contracts go with the RCMP expire and bring in their own police force. They can do that.
“So that would be under the provincial jurisdiction much like the potential for a provincial sales tax,” MLA Horner explained.
“Things that you need the confederation to allow you beyond the constitution like if people that ask about the ‘possibility for independence, is the question that comes up the most often and that would definitely be in the latter of the constitutional piece.”
The process in brief
In the case of municipal officials, Albertans would need to notify the chief administrative officer of the municipality. For school board officials, they would apply to the secretary of the relevant school board.
An eligible Albertan could begin the process to have their MLA recalled by applying to the chief electoral officer.
The Albertan would then have 60 days to gather signatures from 40 per cent of eligible voters in their constituency for MLAs.
For elected municipal officials, the Albertan would need signatures from electors that represent 40 per cent of the population in the municipality or ward.
For school board trustees, the Albertan would have 120 days to gather signatures from 40 per cent of eligible voters in that school district or ward.
If the recall petition is successful, the voters in that MLA’s constituency would then vote to determine if they should be recalled.
If the recall petition for an elected municipal official is successful, the elected official is removed once the petition is presented at the next council meeting.
If the recall petition for a school board trustee is successful, they would be removed from the board. The board would then decide if a by-election is necessary.