Court challenge to continue over Alberta’s fixed election dates: lawyer

A lawyer says a court hearing on the issue of fixed election dates in Alberta will go ahead.

EDMONTON — A lawyer says a court hearing on the issue of fixed election dates in Alberta will go ahead.

An Edmonton judge dismissed a court application two weeks ago to put a stop to the upcoming provincial election.

But Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Kenneth Nielsen also ruled there could still be a full hearing on the merits of the case.

Lawyer Michael Bates says his two clients who launched the challenge want to proceed with a hearing, but no date has been set.

They wanted the court to order the government to hold the election between March and May of 2016 — four years after the last election.

The time period is spelled out in Alberta’s Election Act, introduced by the governing Progressive Conservatives and passed in 2011.

On Tuesday, Premier Jim Prentice asked the lieutenant-governor to dissolve the legislature, and called the election for May 5.

In a written decision released Wednesday, the judge says both sides are still entitled to have a full hearing on the case.

“Given the applicants’ submission that they are entitled to have a hearing on the merits and given that this matter was heard on an expedited basis, I am not satisfied that all parties have had a full opportunity to argue this matter,” wrote Nielsen.

Bates said he’s not seeking to have the election declared illegal. The case focuses on the meaningful ability of people to participate in the electoral process and the power of the premier.

“It’s asking for the court to ultimately interpret whether in fact the power of the premier to have asked for an election even exists,” he said.

Such a hearing could be months away.

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