Voters tell The Calgary Journal transparency in government a key priority

Harry Chase, Calgary-Varsity’s previous MLA, has stepped down for the Calgary-Varsity constituency’s sixth provincial election. With no running incumbent, the Calgary Journal tested the pulse in the riding, and asked residents what issues they were concerned with in the upcoming election.

The Calgary-Varsity provincial electoral district was established in 1993, and spans the Varsity, Dalhousie, Brentwood, Banff Trail, and Charleswood communities, as well as some areas from Silver Springs.

After surveying more than 30 residents throughout the Calgary-Varsity constituency, the common priority among all interviewed, including the candidates, was ensuring transparency and maintaining accountability.

The Calgary Journal contacted all six candidates and relayed those concerns and questions reflected throughout the riding. Each candidate answered one main question addressing residents’ concerns:

If elected, how will you maintain accountability?

Alberta Party, Alex McBrien: “We need to make sure that MLAs remain accountable to the people who elected them. I would help legislate a ‘Guideline for MLAs’ that would encourage stronger engagement with constituents, resulting in a more authentic representation of their views in the legislature. I would also introduce legislation to limit candidate and political party spending to reduce the influence of money on elections, and mandate the full disclosure of donations before elections and party leadership votes so voters have the opportunity to know how their candidates are being funded.”

EverGreen, Carl Svoboda: “By conducting all my dealings openly, and meeting with constituents in a town hall format.”

Liberal, Bruce Payne: “I operate with [an open door policy,] in my current role and my current job. I make myself completely available to them. If there’s anything ever in question about what I’m doing, or the decisions I’m making, or where I am at any particular time, I have nothing to hide…. The accountability that I believe I have as an MLA would be, first of all, to the constituents — to the people who elected me. Then those people could know my whereabouts and my decisions at any time.”

NDP, Jackie Seidel: “The proper question is: to what or to whom are we accountable? The government is accountable to all diverse citizens in the province because Alberta belongs to everyone. I do not believe that the government is accountable to corporations or shareholders; rather, corporations are accountable to us, the people. The word ‘democracy’ means of the ‘common people’ – this means that we, the common people, get to decide what matters. More importantly, the government is also accountable to all future citizens and must take their needs and interests into account in all decisions. The government is also accountable to what we might call non-human life, that is the trees, the fish, the air, and the water. Because we live on a planet where all life is interconnected, we are also accountable to life beyond our own borders, to the life of the whole planet, now and in the future. Accountability means being good global citizens, being leaders in demonstrating how to live well together by being a just, peaceful, compassionate and ecological society. This is my most important priority as a candidate.”

Progressive Conservative, Donna Kennedy-Glans: “”If there isn’t alignment in the commitment to the action, please call me up on it. In fact, that whole alignment of values and commitments and actions is my area of expertise. I call it integrity. I’ve written a book on corporate integrity, and more importantly, that’s the work I’ve been doing for the last 15 years. If you ask people, or Google my name, I work with big organizations, sometimes small, mostly not-for-profit, but sometimes profit, and guide them in that accountability and how you manage integrity. So this is an area where I have expertise. This is what I did for my living before I started knocking on doors.”

Wildrose, Rob Solinger: “Introduce whistleblower protection for all government-paid employees and professionals, including health care workers. I will also provide easier and more affordable public access to Freedom of Information requests for all government operations including Crown corporations and government investments. In addition, I’ll instill a reverse onus proof forcing the government to prove to the Privacy Commissioner that information requested by the media or public should not be released before any FOIP request is denied.”

The general election will take place April 23.

Editors note: While all candidates were provided with a uniform survey by email, both Bruce Payne and Donna Kennedy-Glans opted to answer the questions in person.

All photos courtesy of respective candidates

knapier@cjournal.ca