Editorial – People were hoodwinked

Chris Clegg

Death and taxes are said to be the two most guaranteed facts of life.

We can add a third. A recall petition in Alberta being successful. Pigs learning to fly would get better odds in Vegas than a recall petition being successful.

In High Prairie, three separate recall petitions were filed Feb. 16 against Mayor Brian Panasiuk, Councillor Donna Deynaka and Councillor James Waikle. The petitions were found valid prompting a 60-day period for the petitioners to gather 952 signatures (40 per cent of the town’s population) for it to be considered. Note not 40 per cent of eligible voters, but 40 per cent of the population, is the rule.

Somewhere in the back room, Panasiuk, Deynaka and Waikle must be laughing their guts out. They know chances of success are remote.

The Alberta government sets the rules for recall petition. The rules must be stringent. It must be difficult to be successful in recalling an elected official. If it was easy, there would be an endless string of recall petitions being filed and removing elected officials. That kicks in election expenses for the affected municipality – something no one wants.

What the rules should be can be debated with everyone having a different opinion. Requiring 40 per cent of the total population? Too high. Why not 50 per cent plus one of eligible voters? Isn’t that the true democratic way?

The $500 required to filed a recall petition? A joke. Almost any Tom, Dick or Harry could file a petition against – well – any Tom, Dick or Harry. What should the number be? You can’t make it so expensive a resident in a small village cannot raise the money needed compared to a city where millionaires and billionaires live.

Currently, the $500 fee is so small many would gladly pay the fee just to embarrass the affected party named in the petition. That it not fair, either.

So, why are the rules so difficult?

The Alberta government knows the general population likes the idea of recall because it makes them feel like they have power. More power than going the poll every four years. It gives voters the illusion they really have the power of recall, when chances of success are as slim as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repealing his carbon taxes.

And do not forget, the same politicians passing these rules know they need to make it difficult to remove their sorry asses from their comfortable seats. Why would they make it easy?

The fact is, this was all an elaborate illusion set up by the provincial government and the people fell for it hook, line and sinker.

Perhaps the recall petitioners can take some satisfaction from the process. They will not be successful, but they are bringing concerns and awareness in front of the public eye. The secrecy of High Prairie town council’s actions is the driving force behind the recall and are well-documented.

The biggest question that remains after the recall process fails is will it matter? Will town council govern itself differently?

Even the most optimistic person cannot help believe they will.

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