How to Ensure Nothing Gets Passed – Introducing Bills-101

The following release was posted to the Wildrose Party website on May 2, 2015.  It deals with what the Wildrose party feels should have been Bill 1 of this legislative session had they been elected government on May 5th, 2015.

Now rumour has it, after a selection has been made, by the legislative staff, of the first opposition member to bring forward a private member’s bill, the powers that be want the following to be that private member’s bill.

Wildrose Announces Accountability Act As Bill 1 and Blue Ribbon Audit Panel
May 02, 2015 9:53 AM

CALGARY, AB (May 2, 2015): To restore the faith of Albertans after 44 years of one-party government, the first piece of legislation a Wildrose government would pass would be a comprehensive Accountability Act to be complemented by a Blue Ribbon Audit Panel to clean up government.

“Everywhere I go in the province, people tell me they want change they can trust.” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “Now is the time to start looking to the future and lay the foundation for a strong, honest, effective government.”

The Accountability Act will improve transparency, end lavish entitlements, and restore the faith of Albertans in our democratic institutions and representatives.

Highlights of the Accountability Act include:

  • Get big money out of politics by banning corporate and union donations while significantly reducing the personal contribution limit
  • Pass legislation banning MLAs elected under one party from crossing to another Caucus without a by-election
  • Legislate true fixed dates for provincial elections by only allowing earlier date in the case of the government losing a non-confidence vote
  • Implement MLA recall legislation 
  • End sole-sourced contracting (outside of true emergencies) and improve Conflict of Interest legislation to ensure all contracts are awarded fairly
  • Pass legislation to limit severance packages for all political staff and senior government and agency officials and make all severance agreements transparent
  • Implement full disclosure of all financial expenditures of public funds by all ministries and arms-length boards and agencies
  • Prohibit government spending announcements during elections

The Audit Panel will be independently chaired, and will include accountants and industry experts as well as MLAs from all political parties in the Legislature. It will look at the Carbon Capture and Storage trunk line, the North West Upgrader, the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission, and the massive power lines being built under the PCs Bill 50, reporting its results by the end of the year.

“Albertans have to be able to trust their leaders, and they are understandably cynical after the government they’ve had for the past decade. Wildrose will fight every day for honest government and present a new kind of leadership that works to earn Albertans’ trust.” Jean pledged. ((, May 2, 2015))

My question is this.  Do we want to achieve anything during this session?  Historically, bloated bills tend to fail at vote time.  Debate over every paragraph and sentence tends to muddy the waters, and takes away from the meaning of the bill.

Examples for failed bloated bills: Example 1 (There’s nothing like cutting off your nose to spite your face), Example 2, Example 3 (An example of a bloated Bill that passed, but was so confusing to read), Example 4

What I see above is a list of 8 individual bills.  Each one stands on its own merits.  Each one, without being muddied by the ones around it, should pass muster and, if written properly, should pass a vote.  As soon as they are combined they become a hindrance to each other.  They weaken each other at the debate stage.

As one who is always looking for what is hidden in a bill, as parental rights attacks were hidden in Ms. Blakeman’s Bill 202, lumping so many individual items in a single bill will, certainly, make it more difficult to see what is an isn’t hidden in the, in the case of the above list of bills, hundreds of paragraphs in the bill.

It just so happens, the Legislature has drawn the person who will introduce the first private member’s bill in the upcoming session.  Being that it is a member of the opposition party who survived the floor crossing fiasco in December of 2014, wouldn’t it be fitting if that MLA introduced a simple bill calling for the banning of floor crossing in the legislature?

I don’t know who is calling the shots in the official opposition, I just hope whomever it is takes some time to think things through.  Do we want bloated, doomed to fail bills, or do we want a few well thought out, well drafted bills that the government can get on board with?  A nice clean bill that is simple to read, simple to understand, and that is easily sold to Albertans is how we get work done.  If we confuse the NDP government, or step on their toes, we will get nothing done.

“Get big money out of politics” is part of the NDP platform.  What makes anyone think the NDP majority government is going to let a private member’s bill step on their toes?  This bill would be doomed to fail on that alone.  Do we want to lose floor crossing legislation because of it?  Do we want to lose the other 6 items because of it?

Baby steps people.  Baby Steps.  Someone told me this morning, “The way to eat an elephant is to cut it into portions and eat a bit at a time.  It won’t work if you just open up and try to suck the whole thing back.”  I think the same holds true for bloated bills.