Bill 51, the Citizen Initiative Act, would allow Albertans to bring their concerns and proposals forward to government for discussion or referendum.
“Following the last federal election, I committed to doing everything within our power to fight for a fair deal for Alberta, and to give Albertans a bigger say over major issues. Specifically, I committed to introducing a law to empower voters to put big issues on the agenda through citizen initiative legislation. The introduction of Bill 51 is another promise kept, and is a historic democratic reform for our province.”
“Albertans deserve to have a greater say in the issues that affect them. Through this legislation, Albertans have the opportunity to directly set the priorities for government between elections.”
The proposed Citizen Initiative Act would allow any Albertan who is an eligible voter to bring forward an initiative for consideration.
To bring an initiative forward, an Albertan would apply to the province’s chief electoral officer to start a petition for an initiative. They would have 90 days to gather the signatures of:
- Ten per cent of voters provincewide for legislative and policy initiatives.
- For constitutional initiatives, petitioners would need the signatures of 20 per cent of voters provincewide, and would need that level of support in each of two-thirds of Alberta’s constituencies.
Successful legislative and policy initiatives would then be referred to a committee of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for consideration. Successful constitutional initiatives will proceed through the process established in the Referendum Act.
Many U.S. states and European countries have had citizen initiative laws in place for more than a century. The province of British Columbia has had an initiative law similar to Bill 51 since 1991.
Bill 51 was developed based in part on recommendations made by the Alberta legislature’s Special Select Committee on Democratic Accountability, which held public consultations on initiative legislation last year.
- Elections Alberta would need to verify the signatures to determine if a petition is successful.
- There will be limits on how much Albertans and third parties, like political action committees, can spend on promoting or arguing against the initiative. These limits will be set in regulation.