Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ed Stelmach Slaps the Face of Democracy

How's this for democracy?  Everyone assumed Premier Ed Stelmach would announce that Senate Elections would be held along with the municipal elections this fall. Our current senators-in-waiting term is coming due at the end of the year. Parties were gearing up to nominate their candidates. Well he's put the kibosh on that!  He's putting the senate elections off in Alberta and has chosen instead to extend our current senators-in-waiting's terms for another 3yrs.
So how did Alberta welcome this affirmation of its 25 years of work on the file? By refusing to hold new Senate elections and using a cabinet decree to extend the terms of its existing senators-in-waiting by three years.
In announcing that he would keep Alberta's three current senators-in-waiting in "office" until 2013, after their terms run out this coming December, Premier Ed Stelmach insisted his move "reaffirms the democratic will of Albertans who voted for them."
Yet is has been six years since Alberta voters identified the three current senators-to-be: Tories Betty Unger and Cliff Breitkreuz and Independent Link Byfield.
The only sure way to gauge voter's democratic will would be to ask them to express it again. But not only will Alberta's ruling Tories not go back to voters in a new Senate election, they didn't even have the courage to ask the provincial legislature -- in which they have an unassailable majority -- to back the term extensions.
"Our province has shown leadership in holding Senate elections and continually advocated that the will of the people must be reflected in the Senate," Premier Stelmach added, then without reference to those same people or even to their elected representatives, he merely declared Ms. Unger and Messrs. Breitkreuz and Byfield reaffirmed for an additional half term. Lorne Gunter
Senator-in-waiting, Link Byfield is none too happy about it. Thinks Ed has done this because he's afraid that Eddie's candidates would lose. 
“I think it’s a very bad idea,” said Byfield, calling it undemocratic for the premier to make such a move, especially since previous terms have always been six years.
“If you start playing too many games with that, you discredit the whole process and of course the process is challenged enough as to its credibility without them further straining it,” Byfield said.
Byfield is a founding member of the Wildrose Alliance, which has surged in public opinion polls in the last year, but he insists his criticism has no political angle.
“I’m speaking as a senator-elect on this. Even if I thought the Wildrose Alliance would actually lose these elections … I would say it anyway. Six years are up, let’s go to the polls,” he said.
Byfield thinks the government is afraid that Progressive Conservative candidates would lose if an election was held along with municipal elections in October
Just when the federal goverment  is urging provinces to elect their senators, this happens.  Not very encouraging to the other provinces that's for sure. We were the leaders in senate elections now Ed Stelmach has set Senate reform back.   I happen to agree with Link Byfield in that Ed is probably afraid his candidates would lose, so what! And yes, I agree "let's go to the polls."

Gee, thanks a lot Premier!   I'm sure the Prime Minister is just thrilled too!  Not! (sarc)
Premier where are your principals, hold those elections, I want to choose!