Equalization Referendum Hurts Local Democracy

Alberta Party

June 08, 2021


The provincial government’s Equalization Referendum question is an ineffective piece of political theatre and comes with a steep cost to local democracy.

Even if this referendum is successful, it will have zero impact on the equalization program. Even if a clear majority of Albertans support it, the federal government has no requirement to act on it. And nor would it. Because Premier Kenney isn’t asking for a fair deal for Alberta. He isn’t asking to reform the formula which he helped create while in Stephen Harper’s government. Instead, he is asking to throw the entire program out. Which is a popular idea to Albertans but has no chance of success.

Instead of undertaking meaningful action to negotiate a better deal for Alberta, Kenney is continuing to play political theater. And this time, it comes with a cost. It is undermining local democracy.

Municipal governments own the majority of public infrastructure and deliver the public services Albertans use the most. They have an enormous impact on our everyday life. At the same time, municipal elections receive little attention. Focus on local issues will erode even further if local elections need to compete against media stories and coffee shop conversations about Alberta’s fight with Ottawa.

Acting Leader Jacquie Fenske,

“As a former municipal Councillor, I know how important engaged residents are to local decision making. The best opportunity to engage comes during municipal elections. And this time around, Premier Kenney is making those critical elections not about local issues but about him and his fight with Ottawa. October should be about potholes, recreation centres, property taxes, community services and other local issues. Instead, it is going to be about stoking the Premier’s ego through his farce of a referendum.”

The Alberta Party joins local elected officials, supported by the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association Local Democracy Pledge, in their plea to keep local elections local.