The Alberta Senate Election Act was Introduced in the legislature Wednesday. If passed, Bill 13 will reinstate Senate nominee elections in Alberta.

“Passing it would restore Albertans’ opportunity to directly participate in choosing Senate nominees,” Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer said as he moved first reading of the bill.

“The Alberta Senate Election Act will continue Alberta’s push for the democratization of the Canadian Senate, so Alberta Senators have a mandate from Albertans to be effective voices for our province in the federal parliament,” Schweitzer said.

Premier Jason Kenney first revealed plans for this legislation on June 21, after the Senate passed two controversial environmental bills that he says will hurt Alberta’s oil and gas industry.

“I am very disappointed in the way they voted against Alberta’s interests,” Premier Kenney said Wednesday. “That’s my job as premier is to assert our province’s interests, I would think that’s the same job of Alberta’s senators.”

Rules for Senate elections

Senate nominee voting could be part of provincial or municipal elections, as a stand-alone election or with a referendum. A maximum of three persons would be elected.

Nominee candidates would be required to follow the rules set out in the Election Act, Election Finance and Contribution Disclosure Act and Local Authorities Election Act, including rules around third-party advertising.  

The nominee’s election ballot would name the federal political party that they would be aligned with as a senator.

A candidate could not spend more than $500,000 on an election. If a provincial political party chooses to support a senatorial candidate, their spending cannot exceed 20 per cent of the candidate’s spending limit.

Previous Senate election law expired in 2016

Alberta’s previous senate nominee elections law, the Senatorial Selection Act, was passed in 1989 and expired in 2016.  The province held four senate nominee elections between 1989 and 2012.

Senators are by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister and an advisory committee. Senate nominations by the province are not binding.

Of the ten Senate nominees that were elected, five were appointed to the Senate. 

Alberta Senator Doug Black was elected in 2012 and appointed to the Senate in January 2013.

“By virtue of the fact that I’m elected, I feel a very real commitment to Albertans who expressed their confidence in me,” he said Wednesday.

“I feel it every day and that’s why today, I’m here to support the premier and the minister.  Because this is the right step for Alberta and it’s the right step for democracy in Alberta.”