June 24th, 2024

Frustrated rural municipalities say Alberta bill still gives province unchecked power

By The Canadian Press on May 24, 2024.

The organization representing rural municipalities in Alberta says even with proposed amendments, a bill before the legislature is still poised to give Premier Danielle Smith's cabinet unchecked power. Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver and Smith make an announcement in Edmonton, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson.

EDMONTON – The organization representing rural municipalities in Alberta says a bill before the legislature is poised to give Premier Danielle Smith’s cabinet unchecked power, even with proposed amendments.

Rural Municipalities of Alberta president Paul McLaughlin says he’s frustrated the changes won’t stop the province from intruding on local governments.

The bill, as first tabled, would have given Smith’s cabinet the ability to fire councillors if deemed in the public interest.

The changes to the bill mean cabinet could only oust locally-elected officials by ordering a recall vote.

Also under the amendments, Smith’s cabinet could still overturn bylaws but only those that go against the Constitution, step outside legal municipal jurisdiction or are contrary to a provincial policy.

Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver says the changes are about providing clarity and were informed by feedback from municipalities.

McLaughlin says with no clear definitions of public interest or provincial policy, it appears the proposed law could be used to justify cabinet interference for nearly any reason.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2024.

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