Status: Bill 29 introduced on June 24, 2020. Bill 23 passed December 5, 2018.
Ministry responsible: Municipal Affairs

Overview

Alberta is updating the Local Authorities Election Act that outlines election rules in municipalities, school boards, Métis Settlements and irrigation districts. The changes will ensure local and provincial elections have more consistent rules.

  • Bill 29: The Local Authorities Election Amendment Act, was introduced on June 24 to make further amendments, including allowing people to donate to as many candidates as they choose and giving candidates more flexibility to get their message out to voters.
  • Introduced as Bill 23, An Act to Renew Local Democracy in Alberta was passed on December 5, 2018 to limit campaign contributions, ban corporate and union donations and improve transparency and accountability.

These changes support basic democratic principles of fairness, accountability and transparency and address concerns raised by Albertans, municipalities and school board partners during engagements held in winter of 2020 and in summer of 2018.

2020 changes

If passed, Bill 29: The Local Authorities Election Amendment Act would allow:

  • people to donate up to $5,000 per candidate and support an unlimited number of candidates
  • candidates to:
    • self-contribute up to $10,000 per year to their campaign
    • raise $5,000 per year outside of the campaign period, up from $2,000
    • donate campaign surpluses over $1,000 to charity, instead of requiring municipalities and school boards open trust accounts to hold them
    • continue filing disclosures after election day, as required
    • require a chartered professional accountant review financial statements before submitting them to the municipality or school board if they received or spent more than $50,000
  • third party advertisers participate more freely by changing advertising rules

2018 changes

Formerly known as Bill 23, An Act to Renew Local Democracy in Alberta was passed in 2018 to update local election rules.

Campaign contributions

  • Bans corporate and union donations so that only individual Albertans would be able to make campaign contributions in municipal elections.
  • Reduces campaign periods from the current four years to one year, from January 1 to December 31 in the year of the election.
  • Determines candidate spending limits by consulting with stakeholders. Limits would be based partially on the size of the municipality and school board.

These campaign finance and disclosure rules will also apply to municipal and school board candidates.

Enforcing laws

  • Gives new powers to the provincial elections commissioner to investigate, prosecute, and enforce rules related to campaign finance and third-party advertising.

Third-party advertising

  • Requires third-party advertisers to disclose any contributions they receive to promote or oppose a candidate.
  • Requires third-party advertisers to register with local jurisdictions where they intend to advertise and register if they are for or against a candidate or a particular issue.

Improving transparency

  • Requires campaign disclosure statements from all candidates, including self-funded candidates.
  • Closes the fundraising loophole that allows candidates to raise funds without disclosing their donors.
  • Requires candidates to disclose the names and addresses of those who contribute more than $50.
  • Clarifies the definition of what qualifies as an expense under disclosure rules.
  • Restricts campaign activities at voting stations.

Voter participation

  • Requires communities of more than 5,000 to hold advance votes to provide more opportunities for residents to cast ballots.
  • Increases locations for voting, for people who can’t get to traditional polling places.

Next steps

The approved changes will be implemented in time for the next municipal and school board elections in October 2021.

News

Levelling the playing field in local elections (June 24, 2020)