What role should Alberta's provincial government play in municipal issues?

Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver joins Adam Soos to discuss controversy surrounding the province's capacity to strike down bylaws and remove elected members of local councils when it deems appropriate.

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The government of Alberta’s Bill 20, titled the “Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act,” sets out to tackle a number of municipal issues, ranging from establishing the ground rules for the formation municipal political parties and campaign financing to getting affordable housing built, which are all interesting topics that we will no doubt devote further reports to.

But the portion of the bill that is generating some controversy is focused on and affirmation of the province's capacity to strike down bylaws and remove elected members of local councils when it deems appropriate.

Defenders of Bill-20 argue that the bill does little more than defining and streamlining the already existing powers that province has over municipalities. Unlike the clearly defined separation of responsibilities and jurisdictions that exist between provincial and federal governments, like it or not, the municipalities operate under, and at the discretion of, the provincial government.

Critics suggest that the bill affirms new powers, is a power grab, and goes a long way to undermining the authority of elected city officials to work on behalf of their constituents.

Rebel News was joined by Alberta Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver to discuss Bill 20, and to break down whether there is merit to the concerns and critiques the bill, and by extension the criticism the government of Alberta has faced since advancing it.

We asked Minister McIver to explain the relationship between municipalities and the province and to explain why Bill-20 is needed if the province already has the power to interject in local matters and to remove elected officials when they deem necessary.

Minister McIver also discussed the case-by-case assessment of when a contentious decision by a local council merits provincial intervention and when it should simply be left to an election issue where voters can have their say and make changes as they see fit, and if concerns that the democratic process might be undermined by provincial involvement are warranted.

Finally, we dissected a common concern that the changes in Bill 20 could potentially empower a future NDP government (should Albertans ever forget how that experiment went last time) to intervene in municipal affairs to push their own damaging agenda.

If you enjoyed this report, you may also want to check out my conversation with Minister of Affordability and Utilities Nathan Neudorf, in which we also discuss Bill 20.

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