Published in the May 13th issue of The Edmonton Sun. News
Grits would reward voters with tax credit
The Alberta Liberals have announced a 12-step reform plan to become the most accountable government in the province’s history.
Rewarding citizens who vote with a $50 tax credit, creating an independent group to set MLA salaries, and banning all corporate and union party donations are three of the twelve initiatives the official opposition is promising.
“There’s ample evidence that our current political leaders have become much too comfortable in power,” Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann told reporters Wednesday.
“There’s a better way. I believe Albertans want leadership they can trust and only then will they decide to participate fully in our political culture — that’s why I intend to build the nation’s most accountable and transparent government.”
Swann says Albertans who take time to vote deserve the tax incentive, but Scott Hennig with the Canadian Federation of Taxpayers, says the credit wouldn’t amount to very much for citizens in the end.
“It would count as a provincial tax credit so it’s calculated at the lowest rate,” Hennig said. “You can claim $50, but only keep 10 per cent of that, so you’ll get $5 back.
“It’s a terrible move. It’s a goofy, weird way to encourage people to vote.”
However, Hennig praised most of the other steps in the Clean Government Initiative plan.
He commended points like having MLAs make all of their expenses available to the public online, protecting citizens who want to speak out and expose government but are too afraid, and making Officers of the Legislative Assembly like the auditor general and the ethics commissioner more independent from the government.
The last step in the reform package would be to set fixed election dates so the ruling administration is not able call an election whenever it feels it has the best chance of being re-elected. Fixed election dates were proposed after the 2008 election, but were rejected by Premier Ed Stelmach.
Only 41% of people voted in the last Alberta provincial election.