February 12, 2019 (Edmonton) – The NDP and UCP have used their majority on a committee to ram through changes that will effectively create a two-party state in Alberta – supported by the government, said Alberta Party House Leader Greg Clark.
“Obviously we’ve been really good at holding the government to account, so they are punishing us by cutting our caucus budget by 60 per cent – money that goes to propose effective legislative amendments, a shadow budget and practical ideas to make government better. These changes also cut the budget for independent MLAs by nearly 40 per cent.”
“As if that weren’t enough, the NDP are giving themselves a bigger caucus budget, spending another $90,000 on a southern Alberta caucus office when they already have access to McDougall Centre, and maintaining the status quo for the Official Opposition,” said Clark. “It’s rare for the NDP and UCP to agree on anything, except when it comes to silencing the legitimate voice of smaller political parties.”
“This is anti-democratic, and it’s an affront to every Albertan who chooses not to elect a government or Opposition MLA,” said Clark. “Every Albertan, regardless of where they live or who they elect, deserves to have the same level of effective representation. This decision goes against Alberta precedent dating back to 1982, when Grant Notley’s NDP was given party status with only two MLAs.”
Other precedents include 1986, when the two-member Representative Party was given official party status as the fourth party in the Legislature. Two-member NDP caucuses were recognized in 1997, 2001 and again in 2008, when Brian Mason and Rachel Notley were the only two NDP MLAs.
“There’s a fixed amount of work required to prepare for committees, bill debates and to adequately hold the government to account,” explained Clark. “This work goes beyond the absolute number of members that you have, so the baseline funding should be fair. Slashing funding to smaller parties and independents doesn’t serve democracy, but it does help establish a two-party state. That’s bad for democracy, and it’s bad for Alberta.”
“This is not a partisan issue. All Albertans deserve better, and history shows that parties grow, and parties shrink. Both the NDP and UCP should be very careful to not put rules in place today that may hurt them down the road,” Clark concluded.
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Barbara Currie, Executive Director
Alberta Party Caucus
email@example.com / 780-289-6793