The Alberta Party released its plans for democratic renewal last week, calling for fixed election dates, term limits for premiers and a more open budget process.
Party leader Glenn Taylor is promising that Albertans who want their say on provincial affairs would have more opportunities to do it if they are elected.
Taylor said today’s premier’s office has too much power and control, and term limits would be a way to reduce that clout.
“What we are seeing right now is too much power invested in the office of the premier,” he said. “We believe that one way to avoid the centralization of power is to make sure that the premier’s term in office is limited.”
He is also promising, as many other parties have, to create fixed election dates, as he said the current system allows the government too much influence on the process.
“I know this might sound silly to say, but it is really removing the politics surrounding an election,” he said. “We can tell that an election might be on the horizon by the number of spending announcements, and that is not a way to plan.”
Taylor said the party would also aim to create a more comprehensive budget process that would spend more time asking Albertans what they were looking for.
He said this process is used at the municipal level, where city departments bring forward their requests during open council meetings and councillors debate where they want to take their community.
He said engaging citizens in that kind of process can be challenging, but it will be a constant part of the work MLAs do.
“Our expectation is that our MLAs will be on the front lines in bringing forward the views of their constituents.”
He said not everyone will want to have a say, but the chance will be there.
“We are not going to, nor are we interested in, forcing Albertans to take a more active role in their government, but we are going to give them the opportunity.”
Taylor has one budget target already in mind, however — he plans to eliminate the public affairs bureau. The bureau is responsible for issuing government news releases, advertising and dealing with the media generally.
Taylor said it has become far too politicized and controlled through the premier.
“We feel that the public affairs bureau has essentially become the PC party’s taxpayer-funded PR firm.”
Taylor said his party is promising a more engaged process that will reach out to citizens and look for their views rather than selling the government’s.
“We are much more interested in replacing that with a citizens’ affairs centre and help them understand how to engage,” he said.