If We're Going to Have a Referendum...

Mathew Preston

June 17, 2021


Holding provincial referendums during municipal elections undermines local democracy. But since the UCP government insists on holding a referendum this fall, it should at least make the referendum useful. Provincial referendums should be held on policies within Alberta’s control. The Alberta Party calls for Albertans to be given an opportunity to vote on the permanent reinstatement of the 1976 Coal Policy.

There are positives and negatives to direct democracy. Too often referenda become votes on the government in power, not the question being asked, and they are focused on questions promoted by groups with large private dollars backing them. But with a clear question and non-partisan education campaigns created to inform the debate in a fact-based manner, Albertans can decide important issues affecting us all.

Albertans are at a crossroads. Coal development in the Rockies will bring investment and jobs to those areas, but would do so at the expense of a growing tourism industry, ensuring clean water, and the efforts of Reconciliation. Albertans should be able to voice loud and clear what they want.

Acting Leader Jacquie Fenske,

“If Jason Kenney insists on trampling all over local democracy, he can at least have the basic respect of making his referendum meaningful. Having Albertans vote on an equalization formula that Federal Minister Kenney supported and Provincial Premier Kenney cannot change is nothing but political theatre. Instead, let’s vote on something the province does control. Let Albertans voice their opinions on the economy they want to see. Will it be one that is sustainable and forward looking or one that chases a quick buck?”

Referenda have their place. Public opinion polling only tells us so much, and public engagement by this government has been severely lacking - asking a clear question may be the only way Albertans will be clearly heard. Albertans should vote on a referendum on coal policy so we will know what future Albertans desire.