Status: Bill 23 passed Dec. 5, 2018
Ministry responsible: Municipal Affairs

Overview

Elections should be fair and accessible for all.

Bill 23: An Act to Renew Local Democracy in Alberta has been passed to update laws that govern local elections so Albertans get a fairer vote. These laws, outlined in the Local Authorities Election Act, are usually reviewed after every municipal election.

The updates will limit campaign contributions, ban corporate and union donations and improve transparency and accountability. This legislation mirrors changes made to provincial election laws so local and provincial elections have consistent rules.

The new rules would apply to municipalities, school boards, Métis Settlements and irrigation districts.

Campaign contributions

Elections should be decided by people, not by money.

The act will:

  • Cap donations so people would be able to donate up to $4,000 provincewide for municipal campaigns and $4,000 for school board campaigns.
  • Ban corporate and union donations so that only individual Albertans would be able to make campaign contributions in municipal elections.
  • Reduce campaign periods from the current four years to one year, from January 1 to December 31 in the year of the election.
  • Limit campaign fundraising and contributions to only during the campaign period.
  • Allow potential candidates to accept up to $2,000 in donations before the campaign period to cover low-cost pre-campaigning such as door knocking and brochures.
  • Determine 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

Election laws must be enforceable to be effective.

The act will:

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

Third-party advertising

Albertans should know who is behind third-party election advertising.

The act will:

  • Require third-party advertisers to disclose any contributions they receive to promote or oppose a candidate.
  • Require 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

Albertans should know more about who they are voting for.

The act will:

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

Voter participation

It should be easy for eligible Albertans to vote.

The act will:

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

Next steps

Bill 23 will be implemented in time for the next municipal and school board elections in October 2021.

Local Authorities Election Act engagement

This legislation was developed after consultation with municipalities, school boards, irrigation districts and Métis Settlements and the public through face-to-face meetings and an online survey that closed August 1, 2018.

Learn more about the Local Authorities Election Act engagement

See the engagement highlights (PDF, 432 KB)