To properly hold our elected representatives to account, it’s good for Albertans to be involved. With an election looming in the next year or so, it’s an important opportunity for all Albertans. A cohesive effort to put our best foot forward as a province and offer good public choices that come from our experiences is imperative. It will be up to us to decide who will advocate for us, and importantly, not just for special interests.
As the elected member of the Alberta Legislature for Drumheller-Stettler, I know I am personally accountable to every resident in the riding. I realized that when I allowed my name to stand for the election in the 2012 and 2015 general elections. The responsibility of an MLA is to every constituent – with no exceptions, regardless of what part of the riding he or she lives in, rural or urban.
On Dec. 17, 2014 a decision to cross the floor with 11 other Wildrose MLAs was not something I was willing to consider. I knew that the decision was not mine to make. I simply remembered who put me in the seat and knew that I must respect their wishes. I felt a floor crossing would have been undemocratic. It wasn’t something I considered doing.
In recent years Alberta has been on the bad end of some actions and decisions by the elected people to whom we have entrusted the province. This lack of regard for transparency, the will of the people, and accountability has in some ways been met with cynicism and anger from voters, which can lead to the feeling that the average Albertan has no influence or voice on issues that affect them. It creates what some might call a deficit in democracy within Alberta.
An example of this deficit is the lack of free votes in the Legislature by MLAs and the expectation to ‘toe the party line’ without question. The current government failed to mention its carbon tax before the last election, yet each ruling government MLA voted in favour of it. In many instances we have seen MLAs vote in favour of bills presented by the government, with little regard for the wishes of constituents.
The right of the electorate to elect their representation without interference or manipulation should never be undermined. Nor should the ability of the MLA to represent constituents be infringed.
With the battle scars of having been through the 2015 election, Albertans have another marvellous opportunity in the near future to stand up and get involved and to change the ideological course the province is on.
Let’s be sure to take full advantage of our opportunity.