Alberta changes spring election date to reduce risk of natural disasters

Alberta changes spring election date to reduce risk of natural disasters

Alberta will now see its provincial elections in the fall to avoid clashes with major natural disasters.

Legislation passed earlier this week moves Alberta’s election date from the last Monday in May to the third Monday in October, following a format similar to municipal elections.

Speaking on his weekly radio show over the phone Your Province Your Prime MinisterPrime Minister Danielle Smith said Saturday that it is a challenge to manage natural disasters at the same time as there are elections.

“They are bananas and we can no longer do it,” he said.

Smith introduced House Bill 21, also known as the Emergency Statutes Amendment Act of 2024in the Alberta legislature last month to help the province better respond to emergencies.

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The bill also includes changes to a number of emergency-related policies that would allow the province to quickly take over local emergency response efforts in what it considers extreme circumstances.

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Nearly 30,000 residents were forced from their homes in early May during last year’s record wildfire season, days after the spring election campaign officially began.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley told reporters last month that she would not be opposed to reconsidering the election date given that climate change is making natural emergencies more frequent.

Still, he said Smith could have considered going to the polls earlier than the current date, such as February 2027 or October 2026.

“Giving yourself an extra six months seems very selfish and opportunistic from a government that has a strong track record of being very selfish and opportunistic,” Notley told reporters at the time.

Smith said Saturday that wildfires, floods and droughts will be ongoing problems during the summer months. Trying to postpone the election beyond June is starting to interfere with summer holidays and festivals, he said.

Having an election in March or April is also not an option, Smith said.

“You can’t have an election in March or April because there’s still snow on the ground, there’s still ice out there, so you can’t even put up signs on the grass,” he said.

“That’s also the time period in which the budget is typically adjusted, so it can’t be brought forward.”

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Smith said the next provincial election is scheduled for Oct. 18, 2027.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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