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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Danielle Smith releases platform on democratic reform

Wildrose Alliance leadership candidate Danielle Smith released her platform on democratic reform today in a email to supporters.

Her strategy to improve Alberta’s democratic institutions includes protecting free speech, fixed election dates, direct democracy and senate elections:


The first necessity of every democracy is freedom for everyone to say what they think. Unfortunately, the PC record in this regard is going from bad to worse.  Alberta’s human rights commission has assumed the power to investigate, prosecute and punish publishers, pastors and bishops for making political statements with which it disagrees.  This commission is an arm of government (not a court of law) censoring political debate.  The Stelmach government could have reduced the power of its human rights commission with Bill 44 this spring. Instead it chose to make the commission even more powerful.

As leader I would strongly pursue our party’s promise to repeal the political censorship powers of the provincial government through its human rights commission. I would also oppose/repeal the new law the PCs are considering (Bill 205) to ban or heavily restrict public-issue advertising by nonpartisan organizations during elections. There is no need for this law, and it offends the right of Albertans to speak freely.


Did you know that six other provinces and territories have already enacted fixed and predictable dates for elections? (B.C. 2001, Newfoundland 2004, Ontario 2005, NWT 2007, Saskatchewan 2008, and Manitoba 2009.)  In Alberta, the PC party membership has voted in favour of doing the same thing, but the PC government refuses to do it. Fixed election dates level the playing field, allowing all parties equally to plan campaigns and recruit candidates.  It’s hard to convince someone to put his/her life on hold for an election that Premier Stelmach may call on a month’s notice in 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013.


Direct democracy comes in three categories, all very common in other countries: “Initiative” allows citizens to put legislation they want to a province-wide vote; “referendum” guarantees citizens a public vote on certain kinds of critical government legislation; “recall” allows citizens in a constituency to force a by-election.  It would be a mistake for our party to over-emphasize direct democracy, but an even greater mistake to overlook it.  People don't want to be voting on “every little thing.” On the other hand, it offers a good way for citizens to control the government on major issues.  It would be worth convening a formal “citizens’ assembly” to recommend a detailed direct democracy package, and for a Wildrose Alliance government to then submit that proposal to a province-wide referendum.


One of the best and fastest ways to reform federal democracy would be to fill the Senate with men and women answerable to voters in their home provinces, not to national leaders and parties in the House of Commons.  Albertans have been electing Senate nominees since 1989, and two of the winners have been appointed.  Saskatchewan has legislation before the House, and Manitoba has a committee considering it.  Alberta should do two things to push this agenda forward: establish predictable Senate election dates (for the reasons cited above), and ask our six federal senators (both elected and unelected) to confer at regular intervals with the Legislature to find out what we need done in Ottawa.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on July 14, 2009 | Permalink


The Alberta governemnt is indeed alone in it's field. Imagine, human rights commissions getting even more power to persecute citizens within a province always self-touted as the last bastion of freedom. As Ezra keeps stating - reform is no longer possible.

I would be more impressed if Senate reform = abolition of the old Boys and Girls Club.

Throw in the abolition of the GG and her Majesty's representative in the universe and I can see the basis of a political revolution.

Off with their Heads. Today, after all is Bastille Day.

Posted by: The LS from Sk | 2009-07-14 2:21:45 PM

A sound basic platform. I'm in.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-07-14 5:31:50 PM

I have met Danielle she is a great person, and I have no doubt she will win her leadership race. She appears to have the right strategy to gain a lot of conservative votes that have been orphaned for so long.

Posted by: Calgary Libertarian | 2009-07-15 7:19:50 AM

A promising platform. What's to be said against her?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-15 9:35:30 AM

I am happy that her release and Mark's policy platform are the same. This is good news for the party in this area of policy.

Posted by: Craig B. Chandler | 2009-07-15 12:50:22 PM

Good day.
Can anyone tell me where the Wildrose Alliance party (and Danielle Smith) stands on the major social issues such as abortion?

Thank you very much for your assistance.

Posted by: Dave Schmidt | 2009-07-28 9:24:31 PM

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