Alberta introduces bill for citizen-initiated petitions on law, policy, Constitution

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EDMONTON — Alberta has introduced legislation that would give citizens a chance to directly petition the province to amend policies and laws.

Premier Jason Kenney says the bill is another step toward giving Albertans a greater say in how their province is run.

The bill proposes that anyone who wanted to alter or make proposals on laws or policies would need to get signatures from 10 per cent of Alberta’s eligible voters within 90 days.

A successful petition would be considered by the government or could go to a non-binding referendum.

Those who wanted a referendum on a constitutional issue would need to collect signatures from 20 per cent of voters.

Kenney says the bill is modelled on similar legislation in British Columbia and called it a grassroots-led initiative.

"I'm not going to speculate on what Albertans might want to put on there," Kenney told a news conference Tuesday. "It's up to Albertans to decide.

"If there is a very significant public will to debate and decide an important matter, it empowers ordinary Albertans to put that on the agenda."

Opposition NDP critic Heather Sweet said the United Conservative government's bill reflects misguided priorities.

“Jason Kenney was elected to listen to Albertans," said Sweet.

"Instead of taking the time to hear from families and businesses on jobs, on health care, on parks and on protecting the Rocky Mountains, he says it’s not his responsibility to listen. It’s the responsibility of Albertans to launch a massive provincewide campaign to get his attention."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2021.

The Canadian Press