Municipal issues are a hot topic for MLAs introducing Private Member’s Bills in this session of the Alberta Legislature:
Bill 202: Municipal Government (Municipal Auditor General) Amendment Act, 2009
Introduced by Calgary-Hays MLA Art Johnston. The AAMDC is waiting for more details, but the AUMA has written to Premier Ed Stelmach raising concerns about the “bureaucracy and increased costs, to both the Province and municipalities,” which they argue could be created if this Bill becomes Law. This Bill could also have the unintended consequence of creating increased tension between the province and municipalities, as many municipalities (including both the Cities of Edmonton and Calgary) already employ their own Auditors who report to the elected Councils. While I support increases accountability and transparency, I would hope that a new Auditor General would not face the same funding challenges that have plagued the provincial Auditor General over the past few months.
Bill 203: Local Authorities Election (Finance and Contribution Disclosure) Amendment Act, 2009
Introduced by Athabasca-Redwater MLA Jeff Johnson. As rules around municipal campaign financing currently vary from municipality to municipality, this Bill would bring law and order to one of the last frontiers of campaign finance in Wild Rose Country. Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier has recently introduced recommendations to change campaign finance regulations after his 2007 opponent, Alnoor Kassam, self-funded a $1 million dollar campaign against the incumbent Mayor. Increased consistency, transparency, and accountability on the municipal level is a good start, but there’s still a long way to go.
Introduced by Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman. Especially important in areas of the province such as Edmonton’s Capital Region, the creation of municipal tax-sharing agreements and formulas are a critical growth management issue in Alberta. I’m unsure how this Bill would complement the recently agreed upon ‘peace in our time‘* among the 25 Capital Region municipalities, but I’ve always thought it likely that provincial legislation would need to be enacted before we would ever see concrete action on this issue. Unfortunately, due to Blakeman’s political geography in the Legislature (sitting in the 9 MLA Liberal caucus, and not in the 72 MLA PC caucus), it’s very likely that Bill 204 will meet a similar fate to Kent Hehr‘s Bill 201 and be defeated.
Here’s video of Blakeman introducing Bill 204:
*More on this later.