Tomorrow, in the City of Victoria, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia will drop the Writ for their second fixed-date election. Introduced in 2001 by Premier Gordon Campbell‘s BC Liberals, British Columbia became the first Canadian Province to implement fixed-election dates, removing the power of the Premier to arbitrarily decide when elections are held.
In April 2008, St. Albert PC MLA Ken Allred introduced a Private Member’s Bill, Bill 203: Election Statutes (Fixed Election Dates), in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta that would have created fixed-election dates in our province. The Bill received very little public debate in the Legislature and was opposed by MLAs in the PC caucus, including Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Richard Marz, who argued to the media that fixed-election dates would allow public sector unions to strike in conjunction with elections.
In May 2008, Marz introduced a motion that “Bill 203, the Election Statutes (Fixed Election Dates) Amendment Act, 2008, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.” Marz’s motion was passed when 36 PC MLAs (including Allred) out-voted 5 opposition MLAs.
Five months later, while Premier Ed Stelmach opposed calls for fixed-election dates by then-Chief Electoral Officer Lorne Gibson, there was no public debate in the Legislative Assembly on Allred’s Bill 203.
Ten months later, as Gibson was dismissed from his position by a PC MLA-dominated committee, there was still no public debate in the Legislative Assembly on Allred’s Bill 203.
A year later, as British Columbians head to the polls in their second fixed-date election (and second STV referendum) on May 12, 2009, Albertans will celebrate exactly one year since PC MLAs voted for a six month delay on the debate about fixed-election dates in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.