Voters Deserve a Democratic Warranty

Danielle Smith & Jim Prentice. Credit: Calgary Sun

Danielle Smith & Jim Prentice. Credit: Calgary Sun

Voters are the employers who pay for and hire their MLAs to represent them in the Legislature, but far too often those MLAs start to think that they are smarter than the people who hired them. They have a four-year contract and often don’t feel obliged to live up to their commitments except when they want it renewed at election time.

For most of us, if we stole from our employers, lied to them or didn’t do our jobs properly, we would be fired before that four-year contract was over. It’s time for some of these real world employment rules to apply to our elected officials.

If you bought a new Ford F-150 with a four-year warranty and it broke down after just three years, Ford would have to replace your truck. The same should apply to MLAs; that is why I am offering voters a Democratic Warranty.

If you elect me as your Wildrose MLA for four years, you will get a Wildrose MLA for four years. Period.

MLAs who cross the floor to another party should require the permission of their voters – their bosses – to do so. If an MLA wants to change parties, they should either sit as an Independent, or resign and run in a by-election to get their voters’ consent. To simply change parties without consulting anyone except for other politicians and backroom boys is an insult to voters.

Real mergers with majority votes by members are one thing. Backroom deals to cross the floor are another.

My Democratic Warranty to you includes a promise to honour your wishes of having a Wildrose MLA for a full four years or else resign. It’s that simple.

When an employee steals from or otherwise takes advantage of their employer, they can also be fired; but not so with MLAs right now. When the Auditor General exposed that Alison Redford and the PCs had been running an illegal scheme of fake passengers on government airplanes for personal financial gain, voters had little that they could do. Redford had effectively stolen from taxpayers, but taxpayers couldn’t fire her.

To address this, the Wildrose Party is committed to introducing ‘Recall’ legislation. ‘Recall’ legislation allows voters who want to fire their MLA to force a by-election between scheduled elections by collecting the signatures of a large number of registered voters in a constituency. British Columbia already has Recall legislation, and allows voters to use this important democratic tool if they can collect the signatures of 40 per cent of voters in a given constituency.

Employers should also be able to know exactly how their employees are spending their money. The PCs regularly go out of their way to hide how they are spending our money and only cough up answers after being forced to by the Wildrose Party and independent watchdogs.

Now that Jim Prentice thinks that he has unlimited power, he made massive exemptions to the province’s ‘sunshine list,’ which allows taxpayers to see who on the government’s payroll is making $100,000 or more. With the stroke of a pen, Prentice exempted the province’s hundreds of agencies, boards and commissions, many of which are stacked full of Tory patronage appointments, bagmen and fundraisers. It was a brazen move against transparency meant to protect his friends.

Elected officials – and frankly all government employees – should be transparent about how much they are making to those paying their way. Right now, that’s just not the case.

Voters in Alberta have been betrayed by their leaders and have a very good reason to be cynical right now, but that is no reason to give up on democracy. I feel just as betrayed by what has happened with the floor-crossers as you do, and that is why I want to be your MLA. We need to restore our faith in democracy and accountability, but unlike the PCs, I’m not asking for a four-year blank cheque.

In return for your trust, I will give you a Democratic Warranty that you can hold me to.

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