Monday, February 4, 2008

Alberta Liberals Promise Citizens' Assembly to Explore Electoral Reform

The Alberta Liberal Party, under leader Kevin Taft (pictured), is promising a comprehensive plan to improve government and democracy in Alberta, if elected in the upcoming provincial election.

Taft will be facing off against Tory incumbent premier Ed Stelmach in a race most observers expect to be called as early as today.

For years, the Alberta Liberals, like all opposition parties in the province, have been victimized by our antiquated "Winner-Take-All" voting system in this country. In 2004, the Alberta Liberals won close to 30% of the vote, but won only 19% of the seats, while the Tories under former premier Ralph Klein won 75% of the seats with only 47% of the vote. In the 2001 election, 27% of the vote for the Liberals translated into only 8% of the seats. The history of distorted electoral results in Alberta, with huge, lop-sided majorities, is well-documented.

Taft has outlined an Action Plan for Open, Accountable Government.

The plan includes a promise to create a Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform to study other voting systems, such as proportional representation. A province-wide plebiscite will follow.

"Democracy has become derailed in Alberta. Let’s put it back on track. The Alberta Liberals will define and shape genuine democratic processes that restore people’s involvement in government," says the Alberta Liberal website.

If the Alberta Liberals form a government and Taft follows through on his promise, it would be provide another opportunity for citizens to revisit our dreadful "Winner-Take-All" voting system and look at alternatives. Taft has got it right with his pledge to leave this issue in the hands of citizens. Political parties have an inherent conflict of interest when deciding how we elect our governments.

Most politicians whose parties frequently seize power under our existing "Winner-Take-All" system have long cherished it and don't want to give it up. It seems Taft, as a longtime Alberta progressive, understands the importance of improving our voting system to make it more proportional to the votes actually cast.

For more on the Alberta Liberal plan, click here.

Many observers are predicting the upcoming Alberta election will be one of the closest and hardest-fought races in decades.

Even former Tory premier Ralph Klein is predicting his long-ruling party will lose seats in the upcoming election.

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