EDMONTON – A new report released this morning by the Parkland Institute finds that Albertans strongly favour setting election spending limits in Alberta and recognize the important role that protest groups play in a democracy.
The report, entitled Governing Alberta: Citizens’ Views, uses data collected by the U of A’s Population Research Lab to examine citizens’ views on democracy and changes that could be made to improve the democratic process.
Of special note, given the current controversy around the donations made by the Katz Group to the Conservative Party during last year’s election, is the fact that fully 84% of Albertans either agree or strongly agree that election spending limits should be introduced in the province. This support for spending limits spans across supporters of all political parties and from all regions of the province.
Report co-author, U of Lethbridge Professor Trevor Harrison, suggests that “the provincial government’s recent efforts to defend Alberta’s current election financing laws are clearly out of touch with the preference of Albertans.”
In addition, the report’s authors point to a significant disconnect between the government’s recent portrayal of environmental organizations and anti-pipeline activists as disruptive and anti-Albertan and the finding that 62% of Albertans consider protest groups an important part of democracy.
The report also found a fairly high level of political alienation among voters who identify either as non-partisan or as supporters of other parties, with almost half of Wildrose (47%), New Democrat (48%), and non-partisan (47%) Albertans agreeing with the sentiment that government does not care what they think.
“This degree of political alienation does not bode well for democracy, and may actually be part of the reason that we are seeing such low voter turnout rates in Alberta,” points out Harrison. This despite the fact that 97% of Albertans feel voting is an important part of democracy.
The Parkland Institute is a non-partisan public policy research institute in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta. The report Governing Alberta is available for download on the Parkland website.