June 22nd, 2024

Bill 18 a red tape production scheme

By Lethbridge Herald on May 25, 2024.

Shannon Phillips – NDP MLA for Lethbridge West

One of the oldest truisms in any parliament is that an Opposition’s greatest tool is time. While governments want to pass legislation in a timely manner, it is up to His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to use their legislative time to debate bills the government has presented, to introduce amendments, and to conduct outreach to constituents who may be affected by new legislation. Therefore, time is something that is highly treasured in any Legislature. 

Since 1971, Government House Leaders have used a tool of parliament to limit the time spent on bill debate. This tool, formerly called closure but properly called time allocation, is a motion to limit debate on a bill, often to one hour. Used frequently in Alberta over the years, it has met much criticism and called an anti-democracy tool meant to gag minority voices.  

The UCP government has used time allocation motions in the last week on three bills: Bills 18, 20, and 21. Each of these bills are, at their heart, a limit on the democratic freedoms of Albertans so the use of time allocation to limit debate on them is even more troubling.  Let’s consider each one of the bills and how their passage will affect Albertans.

Bill 18, the Provincial Priorities Act, will mean that any provincial entity will require the provincial government’s permission to enter into an agreement with the federal government. Immediately, professors and post-secondary students raised alarm, since much of their research is funded by federal government entities. Other provincial entities, like school boards, health authorities, housing management bodies, and municipalities, all stepped up to say their sources of funding could be significantly curtailed by this bill and their work will be significantly impacted. 

Bill 18 is a huge red tape production scheme that will scare away all sorts of investments, researchers, and economic diversification. 

Bill 20, the Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act, or as one person named it “the Premier attempts to control everything, everywhere, all at once” bill, purports to improve the functioning of municipalities by, among other things, introducing political parties into elections in large cities, giving Cabinet the power to dismiss elected councils and overturn their bylaws, and requires municipal councillors to meet eligibility requirements not required of provincial legislators. The demands to shred this bill came from some unexpected places of protest- county reeves, small town mayors, rural newspapers, and the Rural Municipalities Association (RMA) of Alberta. “This is not only an affront to municipalities, but also an affront to democracy in Alberta,” announced RMA President Paul McLauchlin, a man not known for hitting the panic button, who went on to say the Bill was “over-the-top control…directed to local councillors.” The bill has, at best, been called provincial overreach and at worst was pointed to by political scientist Jared Wesley as evidence of the provincial government’s “creeping authoritarianism” and their “threat to democracy”. 

Bill 21, the Emergency Statutes Amendment Act, 2024, will allow the province to take over emergency management from municipal authorities, give the province the power to cancel local states of emergency, and will move the provincial election date from May to October to try to avoid wildfire season, among other changes. Again, the RMA President Paul McLaughlin, called this bill “the latest attempt to reduce the authority of municipal leaders with no clear explanation”. It is hard to figure out what problem this bill is attempting to solve. Bill 21 appears to negate local capacity and volunteer engagement in favour of red tape and paternalistic approaches to municipal leaders. 

Taken together, Bills 18, 20, and 21 show a pattern of overreach, a propensity for red tape production, and a paternalistic oversight of locally elected leaders. They are also real threats to democracy. When each of these bills came up for debate in the Legislature, the Government House Leader stood to make a motion for time allocation. Three times he repeated his claim that the government needed to limit debate on the bills. Without the slightest irony, the UCP used time allocation, an anti-democratic tool meant for rare occasions, to be used three times to close debate on three bills. Dr. Jared Wesley’s article ends with a clarion call to everyday Albertans: “In short, if Albertans want to push back against the UCP’s creeping authoritarianism, they’ll need to get off the couch. Make a commitment and a plan to stand up. Democracy demands that of us, from time to time.”  Please make your voice heard by writing emails to the government, making calls to your MLA, joining protests, and by volunteering with local groups and unions. Do your part for democracy today. I hope to see you at the Enough is Enough protests happening across Alberta on May 25th.

I am available at Lethbridge.West@assembly.ab.ca  or 403-329-4644.

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Southern Albertan

Anti-UCP Day of Action, today, Saturday, May 25th, at Lethbridge city hall from 2 to 4 pm.
We’re going! This UCP/TBA authoritarian government is out of control. It’s more than time for pushback.


Sorta like you and your party dragging in a royalty review and changed nothing. Just investment and employment took a hit. Nice.

Southern Albertan

Read this!
“Braid: The UCP is getting cranky again. Some members are gearing up for leadership vote. There is definitely something going on, a concern about what the government is doing, and also what it’s not doing.”


We are all aware of whose boots Braid licks and it ain’t Smiths.


Ms. PHILLIPS, I regularly watch session at the Legislature, other than redundant “cat calling” what and when did you rise to speak to any of the Bills (18, 20, 21)? I count “0” , “none”, “nadda”, “zip”…. why or why not Ms. PHILLIPS?

As for your stated “Enough is Enough” protests that were supposed to happen across Alberta on May 25th……. a whole lot of nothing! Were you, Ms. PHILLIPS, at the supposid one here in Lethbridge? If you were, please report to us about it, if you were not at it, please state why not.

Last edited 16 days ago by HaroldP

Recent polls show, however, that Albertans largely support our government’s efforts to grow the economy, balance the budget, create jobs, attract investment, keep life affordable, and fix the health care system for all. We’re staying focused on moving the province forward.”

Fedup Conservative

So let’s hear you explain why there are 923,000 Albertans looking for a family doctor and why the remaining 61% of them are saying that they will be leaving because of the way they have been treated. Wasn’t it Jason Kenney who accused them of being the highest paid doctors in Canada and none would leave because of that?
How do you explain why our retired friends and relatives who were in the medical profession under the Lougheed and Getty conservative governments point out that they were never treated like they have seen these Reformers starting with Ralph Klein treat them? Do you care that cancer patients aren’t getting the attention they need and anyone of us could be next ?

Fedup Conservative

How is destroying the creation of creating more Greene energy that we are going to desperately need , with the loss of 24,000 jobs and a $33 billion investment, firing health care executives, and kicking out the RCMP at a huge cost to taxpayers by eliminating the $171 million Ottawa pays Alberta towards their costs smart?
What was smart about allowing Ralph Klein to dump the cost of cleaning up the abandon oil wells when oilmen point out more and more wells are being taken out of service yearly creating a worse mess for our children. When I was involved in it Imperial Oil closed down 450 wells in one year alone. That was in 1985 so you can well imagine what’s been happening since. Maybe HaroldP needs to get his head out of his ass and start believing the facts, don’t you think?

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