By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on January 11, 2017.
One of the key aspects in a democracy is the idea that everyone has a voice – and not just at election time.
The provincial government is giving Albertans a say in a couple of important areas – the next provincial budget and a review of electoral boundaries.
Rachel Notley’s NDP government is planning a series of public consultation meetings ahead of devising the budget. The set of nine meetings won’t include Lethbridge – Medicine Hat will host the lone meeting south of Calgary. Also, the meetings are invitation-only.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t offer your input. Public comments can be made on the government website at https://www.alberta.ca/budget-consultations.aspx until Feb. 3 at 4:30 p.m.
People will also have an opportunity to participate in a “telephone town hall” meeting with Premier Notley and Finance Minister Joe Ceci on Jan. 31.
Meanwhile, the province’s Electoral Boundaries Commission will hold public meetings starting this month, with Lethbridge scheduled to host a meeting Jan. 25. The public hearings will take place in January/February and July/August in 15 communities across the province, and anyone wanting to speak at a hearing must register online at least a week ahead of time at http://www.abebc.ca.
As in the case of the budget consultations, it isn’t necessary to attend a meeting to offer your opinion. Written submissions regarding the electoral boundaries review can be made online, by email (to info@ABebc.ca) or by mail to Suite 100, 11510 Kingsway NW, Edmonton, AB T5G 2Y5. Deadline for submissions is Feb. 8.
It’s true, of course, that offering an opinion isn’t the same as being heard, but if the government is serious about wanting to know Albertans’ views on what the budget priorities should be, and what they think about redrawing electoral boundaries, the feedback from citizens will be given due respect.
As for Albertans, here’s an opportunity to have a say in how the province will spend taxpayers’ money going forward, and in how electoral boundaries will be redrawn to account for a population that is 20 per cent larger than it was in 2009.
Even if citizens aren’t able to attend public meetings, modern technology makes it easy for everyone to have a say. When it comes to offering their input to the government, some people might prefer the old-school method of writing and mailing a letter. But email and the internet provide quick and simple ways to voice an opinion to government officials, so “don’t have time” isn’t a viable excuse.
If we want to have a voice in the province’s decision-making, here’s our chance.
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