May 21st, 2024

Bill 20 an intrusion into the democratic process

By Lethbridge Herald on May 3, 2024.

Al Beeber – Managing Editor

Of all the legislation introduced by the UCP government since Danielle Smith assumed power, Bill 20 may be among the most controversial – and it certainly has the potential to be the most concerning.

This bill, if passed in the legislature, will give the provincial cabinet sweeping powers to remove elected municipal officials without public transparency and it introduces – as a supposed pilot project – party politics to elections in Calgary and Edmonton.

It allows the provincial government to overturn bylaws introduced by municipal governments for the benefit of their communities.

It is draconian, not just an overreach of provincial authority.

I find it interesting that during the 2021 Alberta municipal elections, there was outrage among some, especially conservatives given my own inter-actions, that NDP MLAs were endorsing candidates in Alberta communities. They were outraged that the NDP, including Lethbridge West’s Shannon Phillips, had the audacity to state support for candidates in civic elections.

Opponents were calling this a horrible intrusion into municipal politics, one that threatened the independence of civic government, and yet here we are 2.5 years later and we have a conservative government making that intrusion into law.

Why? What actual purpose does it serve?

 This is a question raised by Wetaskiwin mayor Tyler Gandam of Alberta Municipalities earlier this week in a media event. Gandam bluntly expressed ABMunis’ opposition to Bill 20 and in doing so perhaps put a target on his back.

Which should raise concerns among voters who support any political party. Why should any municipal politician fear reprisal for supporting policies for their communities that don’t jibe with the political philosophies of the reigning provincial government?

If Lethbridge elects an openly NDP-friendly mayor and councillors in 2025, will they have to fear dismissal from the positions because Danielle Smith and cabinet oppose their political leanings?

Will Conservative-friendly mayors and councillors have to fear the same thing under an NDP government in the future? 

Will cities and towns be prevented from enacting bylaws that reflect the needs and wants of their communities simply because the provincial government doesn’t like them?

Will media be impacted by these rules? 

Being a journalist who has gone out of my way to be get along with all parties, this is concerning because any government has to expect scrutiny and criticism of their leadership and policies. It’s part of the democratic process. 

Will media outlets who the UCP feels aren’t waving their flag be disallowed from media events, will they be left off press releases, will their ownership feel compelled to tow party lines to maintain their advertising base? 

These are valid questions.

The UCP knows that more than 70 per cent of Albertans are opposed to partisan politics being introduced at the municipal level but it still is going ahead with Bill 20. 

Can such a bill be challenged in court? Or with the federal government? Should it? Given the implications, I would say ‘yes’ to the latter. 

Bill 20 appears to be a threat to existence of the democratic process in Alberta and even diehard members of the UCP need to oppose it because they and their party could be on the opposite end of it in the next provincial election.

How will they react then? Will they accuse the NDP of misunderstanding  the bill’s intentions if that party removes UCP-friendly mayors and councillors or kicks to the curb laws aimed at enhancing the lives of residents in their own communities because they are perceived as right-leaning?

Like the interest of the UCP in creating an Alberta pension plan, Bill 20 is something nobody asked for and which no reasonable argument can be made for supporting.

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Too late, it is being amended.

Southern Albertan

Overall, we should not be fooled re: Bill 20 even with amendments. It is heartening, in speaking to folks that they are understanding more and more re: UCP authoritarianism. This:
“The UCP is a threat to democracy. It’s time we stopped pretending otherwise and took action.”


I agree Mr. Beeber . . . this is just more nail in the coffin of the UCP next election. When you do not listen to the people, you lose the next election . . . too many radical changes in too many areas, CPP, provincial police force, healthcare reach across many different areas of society, alienating many voters who for one of those reasons where still supporting the UCP!
Maybe this UCP government will not abuse this legislation, but what about the next government? Once that legislation is in place, it is hard to get it removed, as many of us have found when seeking change.
It is almost like this government doesn’t want to get re-elected . . . ! Who are their advisors?
When you lose next election, think back to all these radical changes and the people who said ‘NO’.


So if it takes three years to unravel a corrupt council you’re ok with that?? See Chestermere


Removing corrupt/lawless Councillors is only one part of Bill 20. I do agree that municipalities have struggled to expel deviant Councillors/Mayors, but Bill 20 goes too far.
In today’s political environment, we must be careful what powers are given to any government. For one example: polls across this province showed that the people, the electorate, do not want political parties put into municipal politics and by doing so it opens the door further to governments of those parties using ‘pork barrel politics’ to buy votes . . . this practise is already abused the Liberals, as they push this country to a debt wall, just to stay in power!
The UCP only has to amend a part of the existing municipalities act to resolve the issues some municipalities have faced in recent years.
Bill 20 goes too far!

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