Green Party gets C as best grade of overall bad grades in Report Card on Alberta Parties' Democratic Good Government Platforms – Wildrose gets a C-, NDP and Liberals a D, Alberta Party an F, and Conservatives an Incomplete

Green Party gets C as best grade of overall bad grades in Report Card on Alberta Parties’ Democratic Good Government Platforms – Wildrose gets a C-, NDP and Liberals a D, Alberta Party an F, and Conservatives an Incomplete

Despite high voter concern about democracy and trust, incredibly all parties still fail to promise to make most of the changes needed to have effective democracy, government ethics and accountability in Alberta

Elections Alberta failing to inform voters they have the right to decline their ballot

Saturday, May 2, 2015

OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch released its Report Card on the 2015 Democratic Good Government Election Platforms of the six main Alberta political parties, the only election report card on these issues (See the Report Card set out below and in htm format).

Democracy Watch also called on Elections Alberta to make issue a clear statement before election day informing voters in Alberta that they have the right to vote “none of the above” by declining their ballot under section 107.1 of the Election Act.  Elections Alberta has no information about this key right of voters on its website – it is not even mentioned anywhere in the 131-page Building Future Voters “education” booklet for Grade 12 teachers.

In the Report Card, the Green Party received the “best” grade of C, the Wildrose Party received a C-, the Liberals and NDP a D, the Alberta Party an F, and the Progressive Conservatives made so few promises to clean up politics in Alberta that they received an Incomplete.  Democracy Watch recommends that voters apply a “Dishonesty Downgrade” of one full grade to the Report Card results given that usually only half of all election promises are kept because of the lack of an honesty-in-politics law which is needed to effectively penalize promise-breakers and misleaders.

"Overall, while the Greens, NDP and Wildrose all made some key promises, all the Alberta parties have failed to respond to high voter concern about democracy and trust issues with their generally weak government accountability platforms -- but voters focused on these issues should still come to the polls and at least exercise their legal right to decline their ballot and vote none of the above to show their concern," said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch and chairperson of its four nation-wide coalitions.  "The party leaders should not be surprised by the lack of overall support they will likely receive from voters on election day.  We can only hope that the parties will actually address these concerns when the legislature opens again and work together to make the many changes needed so that everyone in Alberta politics will, finally after 110 years, be effectively required to act honestly, ethically, openly, representatively and to prevent waste."

"It is not surprising that the Conservatives are doing so poorly because, like the federal Liberals did in 2006 federal election, they are pretending that everything is fine and failed to include any meaningful democratic reform and government accountability promises in their platform,” said Conacher.  “The Conservatives don’t seem to realize that democracy and government accountability promises directly affect which party voters vote for -- every party that has made strong promises to clean up politics and government in the past 20 years across Canada has won more votes and seats, and usually won the election."

The Green Party had the best promises in the areas of Open Government (and its promises in this area was the best overall set of promises of any area for any party).  The Greens tied with the NDP and the Alberta Party for best promises in the area of Honest, Ethical Government, and also tied with Wildrose in the area of Representative, Citizen-Driven Government promises.  Wildrose had the best promises in the area of Efficient, Government because they are comprehensive.  However, other than the Greens’ promises in the area of Open Government, none of the parties’ promises in any area even came close to proposing all the changes needed to ensure democratic good government.

The Report Card grades the six main parties' platform pledges based upon 16 sets of key changes in five areas that Democracy Watch and its coalitions believe are the changes that will most effectively require everyone in Alberta politics to act honestly, ethically, openly, efficiently, representatively and, if they don't act in these democratic ways, to be easily and thoroughly held accountable.  In total, the 16 sets of changes add up to 100 key changes needed to the Alberta government's democracy, ethics and accountability system.

The measures are a compilation of the proposals of the four nation-wide coalitions Democracy Watch coordinates (Government Ethics Coalition, Money in Politics Coalition, Open Government Coalition, and Corporate Responsibility Coalition).  A combined total of more than 140 citizen groups with a total membership of more than 3 million Canadians belong to the coalitions, groups that work on anti-poverty, bank accountability, community economic development, consumer, corporate responsibility, environment, labour, social justice, women and youth issues.

Many national surveys over the past several years have shown that a large majority of Canadians support the 100 democracy, ethics and government accountability reforms set out in the Report Card, as do many commentators on democratic reform.  The federal government, and every province and territory and municipality across Canada, all have a similar list of 100 loopholes and flaws in their government systems (each with a slightly differect set of loopholes flaws, depending on which have been closed or corrected in the past).

The 16 sets of changes, divided into five areas, all reflect the following five key elements for ensuring that large, powerful government institutions act responsibly and follow rules: 1. strong laws with no loopholes; 2. requirement to disclose details of operations and violations; 3. fully independent, fully empowered watchdog agencies to enforce laws; 4. penalties that are high enough to encourage compliance; and 5. empowerment of citizens to hold governments and watchdog agencies accountable.

The parties were given a grade ranging from A (Platform makes clear promise to implement proposal) to I (Platform does not mention proposal), with grades B for a vague or partial promise to implement the proposal, C and D for clear to vague promises to explore the proposal, E for mentioning proposal and F for mentioning the theme of the proposal.  Grades were averaged for each of the five sections, and the averages of section grades were used to calculate the overall grade for each party.

"Given the lack of a provincial honesty-in-politics law, and the lack of a clear pledge by any of the parties to pass such a law, voters should be wary of trusting any political promises," said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.  "However, if they want their concerns addressed, voters should always turn up and at least exercise their legal right to decline their ballot to send a message to the parties."

The 2015 Alberta Report Card is the first that Democracy Watch has issued concerning an Alberta provincial election.  In the past 20 years, Democracy Watch has issued report cards for federal, Ontario, B.C. and Quebec elections.

Democracy Watch graded the parties' election platforms by reviewing the platforms.  Statements by party leaders or representatives were not taken into account as they are not fully accessible to all voters, nor are they binding in any way on the party (as admitted by many party leaders) and as a result are even less reliable than promises made in the parties' platforms.

- 30 -

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443


Report Card on the 2015 Democratic Good Government
Election Platforms of the Alberta Political Parties
(Set out below are quotations from the Ontario parties' platform documents upon which the Report Card grades were based for each of the 16 sub-categories graded in the 5 issue areas categories)

GRADING SYSTEM
A - Platform makes clear promise to implement proposal
B - Platform makes vague or partial promise to implement proposal
C - Platform makes clear promise to explore proposal
D - Platform makes vague or partial promise to explore proposal
E - Platform mentions proposal
F - Platform mentions theme of proposal
I - Platform does not mention proposal



II. Open Government Measures
5. Strengthening access-to-information system
6. Exposing behind-closed-door communications
7. Strengthening lobbying disclosure and ethics, and the enforcement systemIII. Efficient Government Measures
8. Increasing powers of Auditor General
9. Restricting government and campaign advertising

IV. Representative, Citizen-Driven Government Measures
10. Increasing meaningful public consultation
11. Restricting power of Cabinet to make appointments
12. Making the legislature democratic
13. Ensuring free, fair and representative elections

V. General Government Accountability Measures
14. Facilitating citizen watchdog groups over government
15. Ensuring effective whistleblower protection
16. Ensuring loophole free laws and strong penalties for wrongdoers


I. Honest, Ethical Government Measures

1. Requiring honesty-in-politics - Pass a law that requires all Cabinet ministers, MLAs, political staff, Cabinet appointees and government employees (including at Crown corporations, agencies, boards, commissions, courts and tribunals) nomination race and election candidates to tell the truth, with an easily accessible complaint process to a fully independent watchdog agency that is fully empowered to investigate and penalize anyone who lies. (Go to Honesty in Politics Campaignfor details about Democracy Watch's proposals)- No promises in any of the parties’ platforms

2. Strengthening ethics standards for politicians, political staff, Cabinet appointees and government employees, and ethics enforcement - Close the loopholes in the existing ethics rules (including closing the loophole that allows Cabinet ministers, MLAs, their staff and Cabinet appointees to be involved in decisions in which they have a financial interest, and including requiring resignation and a by-election if an MLA switches parties between elections) and apply them to all government institutions (including all Crown corporations), and as proposed by the federal Department of Finance place anyone with decision-making power on the anti-corruption watch list of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (Fintrac) so deposits to their bank accounts can be tracked, and; strengthen the independence and effectiveness of all the politician and government employee ethics watchdog positions by giving opposition party leaders a veto over appointees, having the legislature (as opposed to Cabinet) approve their annual budgets, prohibiting the watchdogs from giving secret advice, requiring them to investigate and rule publicly on all complaints (including anonymous complaints), fully empowering and requiring them to penalize rule-breakers, changing all the codes they enforce into laws, and ensuring that all their decisions can be reviewed by the courts.  (Go to Government Ethics Campaignfor details about Democracy Watch's proposals)Alberta Party – “Prohibit cabinet ministers from using their office for political gain.”

Green Party – “Greens would create the office of Integrity Commissioner for the provincial government. An all-party committee would appoint a commissioner for one non-renewable term.”  “Alberta Greens support amending the Conflicts of Interest Act to prohibit cabinet ministers from making spending promises during election campaigns, as was recently done in the 2014 Calgary-Elbow by-election.”

NDP – “(2.3) We will strengthen the Conflict of Interest Act to prevent MLAs from using their position to benefit their own financial interests or that of political friends, and to strengthen cooling-off periods for former political staff. We will also expand the application of the Act to apply to all senior staff of all of our province’s agencies, boards and commissions.” “(2.6) We will respect the independence of all-party committees, and will work to respect and maintain the independence and adequate funding of the Officers of the Legislature, such as the Auditor General.”

Wildrose Party – “Pass legislation banning MLAs elected under one party from crossing to another without a byelection.”  “Strengthen the independent Offices of the Legislature such as the Auditor General, Ethics Commissioner, Chief Electoral Officer.”

3. Making the political donations and election spending system democratic - Prohibit secret, unlimited donations or gifts of money, property or services by anyone for any reason to nomination, election and party leadership candidates; limit donations to $200 annually from individuals, and bank donations from corporations, unions and other organizations; also limit loans, including from financial institutions, to parties and all types of candidates to the same level as donations are limited; establish $1 per vote public funding of political parties (50 cents per vote for parties that elect a higher percentage of MLAs than the percentage of voter support they receive, and; ensure riding associations receive a fair share of this per-vote funding (so that party headquarters don't have undue control over riding associations); require disclosure of all donations, gifts and loans of money, property or services (including the identity of the donor's employer (as in the U.S.) and major affiliations) quarterly and before any election day; limit spending on campaigns for the leadership of political parties; limit advertising spending by the government and opposition parties and third parties in the six-month period leading up to an election, and limit advertising spending by third parties during the election campaign period (as spending by parties and candidates is limited); strengthen the independence of the elections agency by requiring approval of the opposition parties to approve the person appointed to head the agency  (Go to the Money in Politics Campaign for details about Democracy Watch's proposals)

Alberta Party – “Prohibit public spending announcements during an election, such as Education Minister Gordon Dirks’ announcement of new school portables for his constituency during the 2014 by-election.”  “Toughen Alberta’s campaign finance laws.”

Green Party – “Greens would put strict election-finance rules in place.”  “The Green Party of Alberta supports the public funding of political parties by means of an annual payment of $2 to each registered party for each vote cast for that party in the most recent general election.”  “The Green Party of Alberta would ban contributions from corporations, unions, and any other organizations.  Individual contributions would be limited by a Green Party government to a maximum amount to be determined on the basis of further research.”  “A Green Party government would make all charges, findings and penalties imposed under the Election Act, as well as any subsequent, related legal proceedings (for example, appeals) publicly available immediately on the web site of the Chief Electoral Officer.”  “The Green Party of Alberta recommends adoption of the federal government’s donation framework with a 75% credit available for donations up to and including $400, 50% for the next $350, and 33.3% for the following $525 to a total credit limit of $650 for donations up to and including $1275.”

Liberal Party – “Make municipal political contributions tax receiptable in the same manner as provincial and federal political contributions.”

NDP – “(2.1) We will ban both corporate and union donations to political parties.”  “(2.4) We will amend the Elections Act to prohibit MLAs from using government resources during elections and we will ensure the Chief Electoral officer can effectively investigate breaches of the Act.” “(2.6) We will respect the independence of all-party committees, and will work to respect and maintain the independence and adequate funding of the Officers of the Legislature, such as the Auditor General.”

Wildrose Party – “Get big money out of politics by phasing out large corporate and union donations.”  “Strengthen the independent Offices of the Legislature such as the Auditor General, Ethics Commissioner, Chief Electoral Officer.”

4. Closing down the revolving door - Prohibit lobbyists from working for government departments or serving in senior positions for political parties or candidates for public office (as in New Mexico and Maryland), and from having business connections with anyone who does, and close the loopholes so that the actual cooling-off period for former Cabinet ministers, ministerial staff and senior public officials is five years (and three years for MLAs, their staff, and government employees) during which they are prohibited from becoming a lobbyist or working with people, corporations or organizations with which they had direct dealings while in government.  Make the ethics watchdogs more independent and effective by giving opposition party leaders a veto over their appointment, by having the legislature (as opposed to Cabinet) approve their annual budget, by prohibiting the commissioners from giving secret advice, by requiring the commissioners to investigate and rule publicly on all complaints (including anonymous complaints), and by fully empowering and requiring the commissioners to penalize rule-breakers, by ensuring all decisions of the commissioners can be reviewed by the courts. (Go to Government Ethics Campaign for details about Democracy Watch's proposals)

NDP – “(2.3) We will strengthen the Conflict of Interest Act to prevent MLAs from using their position to benefit their own financial interests or that of political friends, and to strengthen cooling-off periods for former political staff. We will also expand the application of the Act to apply to all senior staff of all of our province’s agencies, boards and commissions.”   “(2.6) We will respect the independence of all-party committees, and will work to respect and maintain the independence and adequate funding of the Officers of the Legislature, such as the Auditor General.”

Wildrose Party - “Strengthen the independent Offices of the Legislature such as the Auditor General, Ethics Commissioner, Chief Electoral Officer.”


II. Open Government Measures

5. Strengthening access-to-information system - Strengthen the access-to-information law and government information management system by applying the law to all government/publicly funded institutions, requiring all institutions and officials to create records of all decisions and actions and disclose them proactively and regularly, creating a public interest override of all access exemptions, giving opposition party leaders a veto over the appointment of the information commissioner, having the legislature (as opposed to Cabinet) approve the information commissioner's annual budgets, and giving the information commissioner the power and mandate to order changes to government institutions' information systems, and to penalize violators of access laws, regulations, policies and rules.  (Go to Open Government Campaign for details about Democracy Watch's proposals)

Alberta Party – “Conduct government business in the legislature - not behind closed doors.”

Green Party – “Greens would end the secrecy and negligence that breeds a culture of entitlement in the provincial government. There would be a radical overhaul of rules around transparency and accountability. The current piecemeal reforms (such as those recently introduced around international travel) are not sufficient.”  “A Green Party government would review and amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to maximize the availability of government-held information to Albertans and remove all unjustifiable exemptions.”  “With the objective of enhancing the free flow of information to the public about what government is doing A Green government would disband the Public Affairs Bureau.”

Liberal Party – “End political interference in Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) requests by establishing an open, independent process.”

NDP – “(2.2) We will make infrastructure decisions and priorities transparent with a public “infrastructure sunshine list,” so that funding goes to build the most important projects rather than to promote the political fortunes of the PCs.”  “(2.5) We will extend the sunshine list to include our province’s agencies, boards and commissions.” “(2.6) We will respect the independence of all-party committees, and will work to respect and maintain the independence and adequate funding of the Officers of the Legislature, such as the Auditor General.”

Wildrose Party – “Provide easier, fairer, and more affordable public access to Freedom of Information requests by reducing the grounds on which the government can withhold information and ensuring the Information and Privacy Commissioner has the tools she needs.” “Mandate that all travel expenses of elected officials and senior staff be fully and publicly disclosed in a detailed online report.”  “Pass legislation to limit severance packages for all political staff and senior government and agency officials and make all severance agreements transparent.”  “Strengthen the independent Offices of the Legislature such as the Auditor General, Ethics Commissioner, Chief Electoral Officer.”

6. Exposing behind-closed-door communications - Require in a new law that Ministers and public officials and MLAs and their staff disclose their contacts with all lobbyists, whether paid or volunteer lobbyists.  (Go to Government Ethics Campaign for details about Democracy Watch's proposals)

Green Party – “A Green Party government would also amend the Conflicts of Interest Act so that the responsibility for reporting meetings between government officials and others would fall on the shoulders of those government officials. (With this change made there would be no need for a Registrar of Lobbyists.) Government officials would be required to display all such meetings in their daily agendas which would be posted in real time on their web sites. Monthly summaries of these meetings with participants and topics discussed included would also be posted.”

7. Strengthening lobbying disclosure and ethics, and the enforcement system - Strengthen the lobbying disclosure law and also enact a lobbying code of conduct, and by closing the loophole that currently allows corporations to hide the number of people involved in lobbying activities, and by requiring lobbyists to disclose their past work with any Canadian or foreign government, political party or candidate, to disclose all their government relations activities (whether paid or volunteer) involving gathering inside information or trying to influence policy-makers (as in the U.S.) and to disclose the amount they spend on lobbying campaigns (as in 33 U.S. states), and; strengthen the ethics and enforcement system by extending the limitation period for prosecutions of violations of the law to 10 years, and; by giving opposition party leaders a veto over the appointment of the commissioner for lobbyists, by having the legislature (as opposed to Cabinet) approve the commissioner's annual budget, by prohibiting the commissioner from giving secret advice, by requiring the commissioner to investigate and rule publicly on all complaints (including anonymous complaints), by fully empowering and requiring the commissioner to penalize rule-breakers, by ensuring all commissioner decisions can be reviewed by the courts.  (Go to Government Ethics Campaign for details about Democracy Watch's proposals)

Green Party – “A Green Party government would also amend the Conflicts of Interest Act so that the responsibility for reporting meetings between government officials and others would fall on the shoulders of those government officials. (With this change made there would be no need for a Registrar of Lobbyists.) Government officials would be required to display all such meetings in their daily agendas which would be posted in real time on their web sites. Monthly summaries of these meetings with participants and topics discussed included would also be posted.”

NDP – “(2.6) We will respect the independence of all-party committees, and will work to respect and maintain the independence and adequate funding of the Officers of the Legislature, such as the Auditor General.”

Wildrose Party - “Strengthen the independent Offices of the Legislature such as the Auditor General, Ethics Commissioner, Chief Electoral Officer.”


III. Efficient Government Measures

8. Increasing powers of Auditor General - Increase the independence of the Auditor General by requiring approval of appointment from opposition party leaders; increase auditing resources of the Auditor General by having the legislature (as opposed to Cabinet) approve the Auditor General's annual budget, and; empower the Auditor General to audit all government institutions and also audit projected spending (like the federal Parliamentary Budget Officer does, or create a PBO-like position to do this)), and also empower the Auditor General/PBO to make orders for changes to government institutions' spending systems, and to penalize violators of spending rules or Auditor General/PBO orders or requests for information.  (Go to the Stop Fraud Politician Spending Campaign for details about Democracy Watch's proposals)

Green Party – “A Green Party government would establish an independent, non-ad hoc process for setting MLA and Cabinet Ministers salaries, benefits, and compensable expenses. Before making a choice of process, it would review how these issues are handled by other Canadian jurisdictions which use such processes, such as Manitoba, Ontario and PEI.”

Liberal Party - “Co-locate Alberta Trade Offices in Canadian embassies and consulates.”  “Require open competition for senior government representatives or trade envoys.”  “Disband the Public Affairs Bureau.”

NDP – “(2.2) We will make infrastructure decisions and priorities transparent with a public “infrastructure sunshine list,” so that funding goes to build the most important projects rather than to promote the political fortunes of the PCs.”  “(2.5) We will extend the sunshine list to include our province’s agencies, boards and commissions.” “(2.6) We will respect the independence of all-party committees, and will work to respect and maintain the independence and adequate funding of the Officers of the Legislature, such as the Auditor General.”

Progressive Conservative Party – “Report on Alberta’s finances on a fully consolidated basis in a format supported by the Auditor General of Alberta, starting in 2015/16.”  “Issue a report card on Alberta’s savings every six months.”  “Provide public reporting in advance of any international travel for government staff.”

Wildrose Party – “End sole-sourced contracting and improve conflict of interest legislation to ensure contracts are awarde appropriately.”  “Mandate that all travel expenses of elected officials and senior staff be fully and publicly disclosed in a detailed online report.”  “Pass legislation to limit severance packages for all political staff and senior government and agency officials and make all severance agreements transparent.” “Use more teleconferencing to reduce executive travel by 50%.”  “Implement full disclosure of all financial expenditures of public funds by all ministries and arms-length boards and agencies.”  “Guarantee an open tendering and bidding process on all major government sanctioned and approved procurement and contracts to eliminate sole-source contract cronyism.”  “Strengthen the independent Offices of the Legislature such as the Auditor General, Ethics Commissioner, Chief Electoral Officer.”

9. Restricting government and campaign advertising – Empower a government watchdog agency to preview and prohibit government advertising contracting out if there is no reason to have the advertising developed by a contractor, and to reject any government advertising that is essentially a partisan ad for the ruling party, and strictly limit all advertising spending by the government in the six-month period leading up to an election.  (Go to the Stop Fraud Politician Spending Campaign for details about Democracy Watch’s proposals)

- No promises in any of the parties’ platforms


IV. Representative, Citizen-Driven Government Measures

10. Increasing meaningful public consultation - Pass a law requiring all government departments and institutions to use consultation processes that provide meaningful opportunities for citizen participation, especially concerning decisions that affect the lives of all Ontarians.  (Go to the Democratic Voting Systems Campaign for details about Democracy Watch's proposals)

Green Party – “The Green Party of Alberta would strike a Citizens’ Assembly to advise and consult on how all dimensions of provincial government operations can be made more genuinely participatory and transparent to Albertans.”

Progressive Conservative Party – “Focus on regional decision-making in health care. Establish 8-10 operational districts. Each district will be aligned with a local advisory council to give the community a say on how their health care is delivered.”

11. Restricting power of Cabinet to make appointments - Require approval by opposition party leaders for all judicial, agency, board, commission and tribunal appointments currently made by the Premier, especially for appointees to senior and law enforcement positions, after a merit-based nomination and screening process.   (Go to the Democratic Voting Systems Campaign for details about Democracy Watch's proposals)

- No promises in any of the parties’ platforms

12. Making the legislature more democratic - Change the law to restrict the Premier's power to shut down (prorogue) the legislature to only for a very short time, and only for an election (dissolution) or if the national situation has changed significantly or if the Premier can show that the government has completed all their pledged actions from the last Speech from the Throne (or attempted to do so, as the opposition parties may stop or delay completion of some actions).  Give all party caucuses the power to choose which MLAs in their party sits on legislature committees, and allow any MLA to introduce a private member bill at any time, and define what a "vote of confidence" is in the law in a restrictive way so most votes in the legislature are free votes. (Go to the Democratic Voting Systems Campaign for details about Democracy Watch's proposals)

Alberta Party – “Strengthen our democracy by redefining the role of MLAs to better serve constituents and reforming how the Legislature operates.”

Liberal Party – “Allow MLAs to have free votes in the Legislature on all non-budgetary or platform issues.”

Wildrose Party – “Restore representative democracy by mandating all final votes in the Legislature be free and reported to the public.”  “Improve democracy in the Legislature by implementing reforms to the legislative process like opposition days and having all-party committees review and amend Legislation.” “Legislate true fixed dates for provincial elections, the opening of legislative sessions, and the presentation of the budget and quarterly updates.”

13. Ensuring free, fair and representative elections - Change the current voting law and system (the Election Act) to specifically restrict the Premier's power to call an unfair snap election, so that election dates are fixed as much as possible under the parliamentary system.  Change the Act also so that nomination and party leadership races are regulated by Elections Alberta (including limiting spending on campaigns for party leadership), so that Elections Alberta determines which parties can participate in election debates based upon merit criteria, so that party leaders cannot appoint candidates except when a riding does not have a riding association, so that voters can give a reason if they decline their ballot (ie. vote for "none of the above") and so Elections Alberta is required to educate voters about their legal right to decline their ballot, and to provide a more equal number of voters in every riding, and a more accurate representation in the legislature of the actual voter support for each political party (with a safeguard to ensure that a party with low-level, narrow-base support does not have a disproportionately high level of power in the legislature).  (Go to the Democratic Voting Systems Campaign for details about Democracy Watch's proposals)

Green Party – “Greens would hold a referendum on whether to adopt proportional representation (PR) and would create a Citizens’ Assembly to advise on adoption of PR; the experience in BC with its citizens’ assembly would be studied and improved upon.” “A Green Party government would make all charges, findings and penalties imposed under the Election Act, as well as any subsequent, related legal proceedings (for example, appeals) publicly available immediately on the web site of the Chief Electoral Officer.”

Liberal Party – “Establish a single fixed election date.”  “Change Alberta’s electoral system to instant-runoff (preferential) voting.”

NDP - “(2.4) We will amend the Elections Act to prohibit MLAs from using government resources during elections and we will ensure the Chief Electoral officer can effectively investigate breaches of the Act.” “(2.6) We will respect the independence of all-party committees, and will work to respect and maintain the independence and adequate funding of the Officers of the Legislature, such as the Auditor General.”

Wildrose Party – “Legislate true fixed dates for provincial elections, the opening of legislative sessions, and the presentation of the budget and quarterly updates.” “Implement MLA recall legislation.”  “Strengthen the independent Offices of the Legislature such as the Auditor General, Ethics Commissioner, Chief Electoral Officer.”


V. General Government Accountability Measures

14. Facilitating citizen watchdog groups over government - Require provincial government institutions to enclose one-page pamphlets periodically in their mailings to citizens inviting citizens to join citizen-funded and directed groups to represent citizen interests in policy-making and enforcement processes of key government departments (for example, on ethics, spending, and health care) as has been proposed in the U.S. and recommended for Canadian banks and other financial institutions in 1998 by a federal task force, a legislature of Commons Committee, and a Senate Committee.  (Go to the Citizen Association Campaign for details about Democracy Watch's proposals)

- No promises in any of the parties’ platforms

15. Ensuring effective whistleblower protection - Require everyone to report any violation of any law, regulation, policy, code, guideline or rule, and require all watchdog agencies over government to investigate and rule publicly on allegations of violations, to penalize violators, to protect anyone (not just employees) who reports a violation (so-called "whistleblowers") from retaliation, to reward whistleblowers whose allegations are proven to be true, and to ensure a right to appeal to the courts.  (Go to the Open Government Campaign for details about Democracy Watch's proposals)

Wildrose Party -  “Strengthen whistleblower legislation to protect all direct and indirect government employees or contractors who report unethical, wasteful, or other wrongful behavior.”  “Strengthen the independent Offices of the Legislature such as the Auditor General, Ethics Commissioner, Chief Electoral Officer.”

16. Ensuring loophole free laws and strong penalties for wrongdoers - Close any technical and other loopholes that have been identified in laws, regulations, policies, codes, guidelines and rules (especially those regulating government institutions and large corporations) to help ensure strong enforcement, and increase financial penalties for violations to a level that significantly effects the annual revenues/budget of the institution or corporation. (Go to the Campaigns page for details about Democracy Watch's proposals)

Liberal Party – “Designate all surface and groundwater as a public good, to be managed in the public interest, and regulated accordingly.”  “Enhance independent monitoring measures and impose tougher penalties for polluters.”  “Establish the Office of the Environmental Commissioner as an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.”  “Amend the Alberta Human Rights Act to include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination.”  “Amend the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) to allow monetary penalties for companies that lose customers’ personal information.”  “Streamline death review process for children who die in government care.”

NDP – “(5.12) We will strengthen environmental standards, inspection, monitoring and enforcement to protect Alberta’s water, land and air. We will build standards based on independent science and international best practices, designed transparently in careful consultation with Albertans.”


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