If passed, this legislation will allow for the early appointment of an Electoral Boundaries Commission. A commission’s role is to review existing electoral boundaries, hold public hearings, and make recommendations for the Legislative Assembly’s consideration.
The change in legislation was requested by Glen Resler, the Chief Electoral Officer of Alberta. It comes as a result of the 2015 general election being called a year earlier than anticipated. The early appointment of this commission would ensure there is enough time for the province’s electoral boundaries to be reviewed. Any changes to the boundaries need to be made in time for the next general election.
“Albertans’ Charter right to vote includes a guarantee of effective representation, which is fundamental to democracy. The early appointment of a commission will ensure this right is protected. The last electoral boundary review in Alberta occurred in 2009. As the population in Alberta has grown considerably since then, it is important that this review occur in time for any new boundaries to be established before the next general election.”
If passed, the legislation would authorize the appointment of a commission on or before October 31, 2016. Currently, a commission cannot be appointed before July 31, 2017.
Bill 7 also seeks to clarify a commission’s authority to consider recent information respecting population that is not collected on a provincewide basis, such as municipal population information. This would be used along with the federal decennial census of population conducted by Statistics Canada or a more recent provincewide census. This proposed change is supported by the Chief Electoral Officer.