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Tuesday, January 06, 2015


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Be careful what you wish for. Recall elections would become law fare writ large. Legislators have to go to the people every four or five years. If the people aren't happy with them they can throw them out then.


I'm not too sure about this. Lets see what Smith and Co. got from Prentice. Probably not enough, but if they got us something good, they should not be punished.

John Chittick

Relying on elections to "throw the bums out" always favours the sitting politicians, particularly those in power. Alberta has no recall legislation so this move is unfortunately symbolic. As to the potential downside of continuous recall initiatives, if it prevents your average piece of legislation from becoming law it can't be all that bad.


Crossing the floor should have bloody well triggered a byelection in those ridings in the first place.

Jim Whyte

My recollection of recall (dim, so take it FWIW) is that Alberta had a recall provision once, which lasted precisely long enough for a recall petition to be circulated to get rid of the premier -- it was either Bible Bill Aberhart or Ernie Manning. Then the law was repealed.

That is one of the reasons recall isn't the cure its proponents think it is -- if a sitting premier is recalled and has to resign his seat in the legislature, can he remain premier? And if not, a new government has to be sworn in. Who leads it? The kind of problems this will create for the LG are pretty obvious.

Moreover, if you're the Opposition, getting enough people in enough ridings to sign recalls for the whole Cabinet could be a pretty effective way of hamstringing the government without that messy and difficult business of confidence votes, and without the obligation to be a government in waiting.

Mike G81 -- no, you're definitely wrong. An MLA belongs to his constituents, not to his party. Without the freedom to withdraw his own confidence from the party, you'd never get a government out of office except by its own volition. (Which is what we get now with the trained-seal legislatures we've got, but a requirement to run again if you crossed the floor would just train the seals even harder.)


"Mike G81 -- no, you're definitely wrong. An MLA belongs to his constituents, not to his party."

So the constituents who voted WR because they are pissed at the PC's, well that's just TFB for them, right? Good call.

Jim Whyte

MikeG81: Let's throw that into reverse and see if it backs up.

Suppose the hypothetical riding of Kicking Horse Pass elects one D. Broadfoot under the banner of the (equally hypothetical) Farcical Party. After six months Broadfoot, an idealist about these things, sees that the party is changing its line on the issues. Now it's insufficiently farcical, and he crosses the floor to the Comedic Party, which believes firmly in comedy. In doing so, he remains true to the principles his constituents elected him for. Should he have to run in a by-election?

How about a government member that starts to smell the stench of corruption? Can he cross the floor to the opposition because the government turns out to be crooked? Can he go and sit as an independent (see Ryan, Perry)?

What about a party that splits over principle (see Strahl, Chuck)?

Nobody has given this by-election idea enough thought.


"Should he have to run in a by-election?"


"Can he go and sit as an independent?"

Yes, if the people who sent him there say he can.

"What about a party that splits over principle?"

Go ahead. But the people who the individual are supposed to represent will have their say about said principles.


Jim, I get what you are saying, and this talk of principles is admirable. However the statement that an MLA belongs to the constituents, not the party is not the whole truth. The MLA's are elected to represent the riding as part of the larger party(unless those red team/blue team signs are just a front for something). You know that as well as anyone that MLA's are not voted in then pick what party to be a part of when they get to the legislature.

Many people are not necessarily fans of their MLA or Federal MP, but they vote for the party, because, well, that's who they want running the show.

If an MLA feels that a party is going sideways and they no longer want the job of representing their riding within that framework, the job they've essentially been told to do by the voters, then they should stand up and make their case to those who sent them there, and should have no problem doing so if it's as cut and dry as you make it.


If the people are that worked up over floor crossing, then they can vote against the crosser in the election. They shouldn't get a special election over something that probably doesn't even matter.

Jim Whyte

The guy that crosses the floor to sit as an independent: what is his party going to tell him, except that "if you leave, it will force a by-election, and we will throw every dollar we have at you."

The by-election gives parties more power.

The guys that split from a party: what is the party going to tell them, except that "if you guys leave, it will force a by-election, and we'll split the vote so the Raving Monster Loony party wins. Do you want that?"

The by-election gives parties more power.

Ditto for the guy that changes parties on principle.

The by-election gives parties more power.

Now if you think (as I do) that parties have too much power over individual members already (see Seal, trained) then you don't want any of that happening.

Yes, there will be opportunists that cross the floor for political advancement (see under a rock for Stronach, Belinda and Horner, Jack) but the alternative is a bigger problem. (Note both of them were turfed in the next election.)

FWIW: and I confess my solution to the proportional-representation non-problem is to abolish political parties entirely. (There, it's fixed.)

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