|I had the good fortune to be able to attend the AUMA (Alberta Urban Municipalities Association) 2021 Summer Municipal Leaders' Caucus in High River on July 21. This was one of an offering of five Leaders' Caucus sessions held in various locations across the province. The agenda included a number of topics led off with discussion regarding the AUMA's Local Democracy Pledge.|
As an association representing municipal leaders throughout Alberta, the AUMA believes they have a responsibility to stand up for constructive dialogue on the challenges our province's communities face and push back against negative and divisive political discourse. In early 2020, the Government of Alberta launched a review of the Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA). To guide AUMA's input, AUMA developed principles for local elections which were overwhelmingly endorsed by members during a virtual meeting in June of that year. AUMA subsequently sought further input from members on how these principles could be turned into a Pledge for candidates. During AUMA's Municipal Leaders Caucus in April, 98 percent of participants endorsed including respect as a key principle and 91 percent indicated that they would be willing to take the Pledge as candidates.
The Pledge is a voluntary commitment a candidate in the upcoming municipal can make to support democratic local elections as they carry out their campaigns to:
- Keep local elections local by focusing their campaigns on issues that municipal elected officials can influence.
- Maintain independence and non-partisanship by rejecting any endorsements which would undermine their accountability to municipal residents or the autonomy of the municipality.
- Demonstrate transparency by sharing their vision for the municipality and providing pre-election disclosure of campaign contributions and spending.
- Engage in respectful behaviour by sharing their perspective, while respecting and seeking to understand differences.
At the Didsbury Town Council regular meeting of July 13 the Local Democracy Pledge was included in the agenda package and the motion to include the AUMA's Local Democracy Pledge in the 2021 Municipal Election Candidates Package was defeated. Some councillors simply didn't support the content of the Pledge, others felt it was inappropriate to include it in the Candidates' Package without sufficient background, while others supported the motion.
At the July 21 Municipal Leaders' Caucus discussions regarding the Pledge focused around two themes; the intent of the Pledge, and destructive nature of social mediums. I whole-heartedly support the pledge, its intent and will be voluntarily placing it on my campaign website. Respectful dialogue is the cornerstone of the democratic process.