New Sask.election dates not ideal fit say councillors

By Glenn Hicks
November 7, 2018 - 9:20am

Changes to the voting dates in this province aren’t sitting well with some Prince Albert city councillors.

On this week, in two years from now, voters will head to the polls for the Nov.9, 2020 municipal elections. They will happen two weeks after the next provincial election, which has been set for Oct.26, 2020, according to new laws introduced by the government. As things stood previously, the existing election laws had the provincial vote happening five days after the local elections. In future, every provincial election will happen the last Monday in October and the municipal vote will occur on the second Wednesday in November.

Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick suggested the local voting would now play second fiddle to the provincial one and the voting public will become fatigued.

“It’s going to be very difficult for both the municipal candidates and provincial candidates to be door-knocking at the same time,” Ogrodnick told paNOW.” If it’s two weeks apart, why not have it on the same day? If you’re going to be campaigning at the same time why not vote for your mayor, school board and MLA all at the same time; it would save a ton of costs I think.”

While political junkies may be even more engaged in the issues, given a provincial election would have just occurred 14 days prior, Ogrodnick figured voters won’t be eager. He said having yet more politics on their plate would be a bad thing.

“If it was going to be better [the province] would have kept their election after the municipal one, but they realize that no, the municipal vote is going to be hit really hard; it’s going to be voter-fatigue,” he said.

Fellow councillor Charlene Miller agreed that having elections across the various levels of government in relatively close proximity did not bode well for engaging the electorate. She also noted there would be pressure lumped on any newly-elected councillors because cities go into budget talks in November.

“We go into budget right after we get elected,” Miller said. “So, for new councillors and maybe a new mayor, I don’t know, it could be difficult for them. I would have preferred a June election”

The change of dates will mean municipal politicians will effectively serve one extra month than they anticipated when they were elected on a four-year term in October, 2016.

“It wasn’t part of my personal plan but the province dictates what we have to do and we have to listen,” Miller said.

She had mixed feelings when asked if the extra few weeks in the job might allow the current council to get some priorities done.

“I guess we could try to get more things done; sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t,” she said.

The provincial government said it moved the election dates after consulting municipalities and finding they wanted them kept in the fall of 2020. Moving them to 2021 had also been an option, which would have extended the term to five years.

The previous four provincial elections before the April 2016 vote all happened in the fall. But the government switched the most recent one due to the fall 2015 federal election, which delayed the provincial budget until June. The next federal election is slated for Oct.21, 2019.

In a media release recently Premier Scott Moe said fall provincial elections made sense “because they don’t disrupt the legislative calendar. The government can still introduce the Throne Speech in the fall and a budget at the usual time in the spring.”

 

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