Saturday, 27 February 2016

Guide to Alberta Politics:Political Parties in Alberta

As I mentioned in Part One of this guide, political parties play a major role in provincial politics.

Political Parties

Political parties are groups of citizens who share similar views about how the government and the economy should work. They develop platforms and policies and run candidates in elections based on their ideologies- ideas based on values and beliefs about the nature of human beings and the subsequent role the government should play in the lives of citizens. In Canada and most democratic nations in the world the government plays an important but not overpowering role. 

Ideologies are often put on what is called the "political spectrum" which goes from left to right, although they can also be placed on a grid which is probably more accurate.

Thanks to Calgary Social Studies teacher Kevin Gilchrist!

There are a couple of good websites that might help you determine where you fall on the political spectrum.  The Political Compass is one. Vote Compass is more Canadian.

There are nine registered political parties in Alberta. Five of them hold seats in the legislature. On the left is the New Democratic Party, more towards the middle are the Liberals and Alberta Party and on the right are the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose. With no seat in the legislature and less than one percent of the popular vote, the Green Party is somewhat to the left of centre with a strong environmental platform. 

Each party has its own constitution, by-laws, elected executive and leader. 

Constituency Associations

Parties also have constituency associations, groups of party members who recruit members, campaign for the party during an election, conduct fundraising activities and participate in decision making in a number of ways. Each constituency association must be registered with Elections Alberta and file financial statements. It has an executive elected by members in good standing. 

Nomination of Candidates Constituency associations nominate and elect candidates to run in provincial elections through a democratic process. Each party has its own rules about how this process takes place. On occasion the provincial executive may intervene in the nomination process-perhaps at their peril.

Membership Albertans can join political parties by paying a membership fee which varies from party to party. It is understood that when people join a party, they do so because they believe in the platform of the party although in fact people may join in order to influence policy or elect the leader or select a candidate to run for election. People may not join the New Democratic Party if they belong to any other party. Memberships may be revoked by the party for a variety of reasons although this is not common.

Conventions All parties hold regular conventions in which the members hear reports, present resolutions, vote on policy, elect officers and conduct leadership reviews. Generally, all members can attend conventions as observers but only certain delegates can vote. The process by which delegates are selected varies from party to party.

Leadership Every party has a leader who is elected by members in good standing at a leadership convention. Some parties hold leadership reviews during their conventions.If a leader loses the confidence of the party, he or she will resign and an election for leader will be called. Candidates for leadership must be members of the party. Generally, members in good standing may vote for the leader although there may be a time requirement as to when the membership was purchased depending on the party.

Forming a Political Party

You can form your own political party if you can come up with a petition signed by 8,351 eligible voters. Write to the Chief Electoral Officer at the following address:

Elections AlbertaAttn: Chief Electoral OfficerSuite 100, 11510 Kingsway NWEdmonton, AB T5G 2Y5