Alberta election rules announced

Image copyright Richard Denniss/Unsplash Image caption The latest rules will take effect in the October 2019 election

The Alberta government has passed new election rules for provincial elections in the province.

The changes, passed by the legislature and announced by Premier Rachel Notley on Twitter, will take effect in the October 2019 election.

The government had faced an outcry from opposition parties, civil society groups and business leaders after the last election was delayed for a year.

Opposition Wildrose leader Brian Jean led a legal challenge aimed at bringing forward the next vote,

Image copyright Ken Coates/Unsplash Image caption The new rules do not include a longer period for official nominations to start

The regulations include a compromise that will allow prospective candidates an extra time to find supporters before the Oct. 1, 2019 nomination deadline.

It will also allow seats in an election to be put up for nomination up to two weeks earlier than planned, in what Mr Jean called “a radical move”, the CBC reports.

The premier also said she would scrap a referendum on changing the date of Alberta’s next provincial election, which would have been held one year earlier than the current plan.

She said the change would allow people to consider its implications “more deeply”.

The current plan, set for October 2018, was delayed amid claims it should be held a year earlier than two, drawing comparisons to Quebec’s controversial fixed-date law.

But the province’s lieutenant governor rejected the request of the Opposition Wildrose Party to order an election in a March Throne Speech.

The party also contested the legitimacy of the Throne Speech in the Court of Queen’s Bench, but withdrew its challenge after the government chose not to call an election during the spring sitting of the legislature.

But the court is still considering a third petition, which seeks to invalidate the Assembly of the First Nations’s decision to remain in power until the vote has been called.

Key changes to election rules:

Existing candidate nomination dates will extend from July 31, 2017 to Aug 1, 2019

Government will provide 10 days to candidates to submit petition to try to start the nomination process in December 2017

Seats in an election could be put up for nomination a month earlier

Lobbyist class of those who raise funds to fund the campaign, would be subject to lobbying ban

There are no longer limits on spending in elections

No deposit required for expenses to register as candidate

No penalty cap for campaigns

“These reforms will set Alberta’s election date, ensure a fair and timely process for candidates, and give voters and voters’ associations a voice in our system,” Ms Notley said.

Image copyright Richard Denniss/Unsplash Image caption The new rules will take effect in the October 2019 election

Clement Jiang, Alberta associate professor of law at the University of Calgary, told the BBC: “I think they [the government] want to have a level playing field.

“The NDP are saying ‘well the court is reviewing another election petition, we don’t have a choice, we need to do the election a year earlier’, but I don’t think that’s enough.”

Mr Jiang added: “The fall sitting is the best opportunity they have so I don’t think there’s much point in putting their house in order before parliamentarians have the chance to have a say.

“I think they want to put it off as long as possible, and so I think they want the backroom members of the legislature and leadership conventions to be dominated by the rhetoric of ‘can we delay the election any further?'”

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