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Should political parties be part of Alberta's municipal politics?


Though Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she's "in favour" of introducing party politics at the municipal level, Calgary's Mayor is firmly against it.

Smith voiced her support of the idea on her radio show, 'Your Province. Your Premier,' on Saturday, even hinting that legislation on the matter could be tabled by the province in the spring.

"We've got 355 municipalities. The smaller municipalities -- I don't know that they're partisan -- but when you get into a city the size of Calgary or Edmonton, you better believe it's partisan," Smith said.

It's an idea not supported by Calgary's mayor.

"I am not affiliated with a party, nor do I want to be, so I don't know what more transparency (Smith) would want from someone like me," Mayor Jyoti Gondek told reporters Tuesday.

"What (the premier) will do is take people who are willing to work for Calgarians first, rather than a party, and make them ineligible to run, and I think that would be a great disservice."

Speaking on her radio show, Smith said municipal governments are "too often" straying away from handling issues of local infrastructure and garbage collection.

The premier pointed to single-use item bylaws in Calgary and Edmonton as issues politicians didn't campaign on and should have.

"I would say that because they are now getting far more political, and far more ideological, there probably needs to be a little more transparency about that," Smith added.

Alberta Municipalities, an advocacy group representing more than 300 cities, towns and villages in the province, says its members overwhelmingly oppose political parties in local elections.

According to the association, a poll it commissioned by Janet Brown in September 2023 found 68 per cent of Albertans are against the idea of political parties at the municipal level.

"The current municipal government model ensures that local elected officials selected by most voting residents stand for the best interests of their residents and businesses," said Tyler Gandam, the president of Alberta Municipalities and Mayor of Wetaskiwin.

"Local governments should be safe spaces for conversation and dialogue among neighbors without the divisiveness or vitriol we are seeing at the provincial and federal levels," he said.

However, some councillors at Calgary city hall believe it may be time to explore the idea.

Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot says he used to believe in the independence of individual councillors, but not so much any more.

"It seems more and more that there are party lines, even within municipal government," he said.

"So, to have the opportunity to articulate that prior to people voting would give better people a better sense on who they're electing." Top Stories

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