Wildrose leader Danielle Smith announces the fifth and final Wildrose pledge called the Alberta Accountability Act in Edmonton on Monday. The Accountability Act is a plan to clean up government by restoring openness

Free votes for all, though the government falls: Smith

EDMONTON — Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith says if she becomes premier there will be free votes on all bills in the legislature, even on those that could bring her government down.

by the canadian press

EDMONTON — Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith says if she becomes premier there will be free votes on all bills in the legislature, even on those that could bring her government down.

Free votes are the best way to balance government priorities with the unique needs of constituents, Smith said at a campaign stop Monday.

“What I’ve heard around Alberta is that Albertans want their MLAs to represent them when they’re elected,” said Smith. “This is essential to restore a properly functioning legislature.”

The Wildrose says Progressive Conservative politicians in Premier Alison Redford’s government have forgotten who they work for.

The party points specifically to Tory backbencher Hec Goudreau, who last month threatened school officials in his own riding to stop criticizing the government or risk losing a replacement for their dilapidated school.

However, free votes can be a double-edged sword.

Parliamentary tradition dictates that if a government can’t pass key bills, like the annual budget, it has lost the confidence of the legislature. Another party, or parties, then tries to form government. And if that fails, an election is called.

Smith said that if a Wildrose budget failed to pass it might be for reasons unrelated to overall confidence in government.

She said there may be a way to hold a subsequent vote specifically on non-confidence to determine where everyone stands.

“We’ll have to get some parliamentary legal advice on that,” said Smith. “But we would like to be able to have free votes on all pieces of legislation, including the budget, and only have the government fail on a true vote of non-confidence.”

The announcement was part of a rollout of policies Smith would package under the Alberta Accountability Act.

She said it would pass in the first term should her party win the April 23 election.

The Wildrose would also draft recall legislation for constituents who want to take action against a member of the legislature they feel is not doing the job.

There would be whistleblower legislation, a fixed election date, and mechanisms for citizen-initiated referendums.

The latter has been a hot topic on the election trail in recent days given concerns that the Wildrose plan would give the green-light to those who want a referendum on the funding of abortions.

Smith, on record in past years criticizing public funding for abortion, has said she won’t legislate on that issue as premier. She also doubts a referendum on that issue would even be allowed, given that any decision to de-list would likely violate Charter rights.

Redford, however, has said she is concerned as a politician and as a woman that the Wildrose would revisit deeply personal issues settled years earlier by the courts.

Liberal leader Raj Sherman has said Smith is taking the province back to the past, leading him to proclaim: “This is Alberta, not Alabama.”

Smith said the bar would be very high to force any referendum. Those pushing for one would have to get 20 per cent of all eligible voters — about 500,000 Albertans — to sign a petition within six months of its launch.

“You can’t have somebody collecting signatures over years and years and years,” she said.

A federal judge would also have to sign off on the referendum to make sure it doesn’t violate the Charter and is within provincial jurisdiction. It must also be revenue neutral.

“We wanted to create a benchmark that was achievable, but still high,” said Smith.

“We don’t think Albertans want to be consulted on every little thing. They value the role of their representative in a representative democracy, particularly if there are free votes.”

Redford, touring in southern Alberta, said Smith’s party is not walking the talk on accountability.

“My understanding is there are a number of (Wildrose) MLA candidates this week who aren’t even going to show up at constituency forums,” said Redford.

“Or when they do show up at constituency forums, they’re not speaking on behalf of themselves … there are party representatives there speaking on their behalf.

“I don’t know how that’s consistent with accountability at the constituency level.”

Just Posted

City of Red Deer invests $50,000 in CFR opening ceremony

Several councillors warn it’s a one-time deal

Updated: Trial begins for woman accused of drunk driving in fatal collision

An eyewitness to a fatal collision near Red Deer described the scene… Continue reading

Red Deer city councillor proposes stricter rules for stray shopping carts and an anti-theft bike registry

Coun. Buck Buchanan’s Notices of Motion to be discussed by council on Oct. 1

Red Deer MP pleased Conservative ranks keep growing

Frustration with pipelines continue

UPDATED: Stretching for a good cause at Central Alberta Yogathon in Red Deer

Funds raised go to Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre

Glad company: Trailer for Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

LOS ANGELES — A beloved nanny is preparing to take to the… Continue reading

Jeremy Dutcher wins Polaris prize for ‘Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa’

TORONTO — Jeremy Dutcher has won the 2018 Polaris Music Prize for… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports manufacturing sales rose 0.9 per cent in July

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales increased 0.9 per cent in… Continue reading

China raises tariffs on $60B of US goods in technology fight

BEIJING — China on Tuesday announced a tariff hike on $60 billion… Continue reading

Ennis hoping to rejuvenate career with Leafs after getting bought out by Wild

TORONTO — Tyler Ennis has had to prove doubters wrong much of… Continue reading

Champ golfer from Spain killed in Iowa; suspect charged

AMES, Iowa — A man has been charged in the killing of… Continue reading

Korean leaders meet in Pyongyang for potentially tough talks

PYONGYANG, Korea, Democratic People’s Republic Of — South Korean President Moon Jae-in… Continue reading

Russia blames Israel for plane shot down by Syrian missile

MOSCOW — A Russian reconnaissance aircraft was shot down by a Syrian… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month