Is City Council trying to rig the next election? - Save Calgary

Is City Council trying to rig the next election?

Is City Council trying to rig the next election?

Municipal elections in Calgary are a mess.

Voters will remember the Election Day fiascos that saw many polling stations run out of ballots in the 2017 election, forcing voters to wait for hours while City bureaucrats scrambled to fix problems they literally had four years to plan for.

Now, the same person who oversaw that disaster is in charge of overhauling the Ward boundaries ahead of Calgary's 2021 election - with City Council retaining the final power to set their own boundaries.

This begs the question - are City Council trying to rig Calgary's next election?

Back in 2017, the City of Calgary did the last major overhaul of the boundaries which defined Calgary's municipal election Wards.

An independent commission was established to examine the issue, hear from stakeholders and voters, and offer a set of recommendations that would best meet the needs of Calgarians.

And then, City Council threw out the work of the independent commission and substituted their own opinions instead, redrawing Calgary's municipal Wards on a whim.

Now, they appear to be dispensing with the independent commission altogether, putting a bureaucrat in charge of the process with City Council having the final say about where the lines will be drawn for Wards.

Why does this matter?

Because where the lines are drawn can have a significant influence on the outcome of the 2021 election.

By moving Ward boundaries to include some communities and exclude others, you can either make it easier for incumbent Councillors to win re-election, or harder by removing areas of support and replacing them with new areas which aren't as supportive.

The process can have a direct bearing on the outcome of a future election, which is why sitting Councillors should be entirely removed from any decision about changing the Ward boundaries, since their own political futures are directly involved.

Also, it prevents City Councillors from redrawing Wards to advance their own political agendas, rather than ensuring fair representation for Calgarians. See this ridiculous statement from Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra on why he opposes leaving Ward redistribution in the hands of an independent commission:

Every other level of government recognizes that this process must be kept out of the hands of politicians.

It's why at the provincial and federal levels, this process is arms-length from politicians and left entirely in the hands of independent commissions, who use processes designed to minimize controversy and bias.

Calgary is headed in exactly the opposite direction.

City Clerk Laura Kennedy says that one of the two options presented is designed to be "deliberately provocative."

Is it really the job of an unelected bureaucrat to be controversial?

And it's not like City Councillors don't already have tremendous advantages when running for re-election. Name recognition, fundraising ability, and taxpayer-funded budgets are all at their disposal.

In fact, are you aware of how many incumbent City Councillors were defeated in Calgary's last municipal election?

The answer is: none.

Not a single incumbent lost their seat.

Now, they once again want to give themselves another unfair advantage by deciding which voters will get to vote for them or not by deciding on the new Ward boundaries.

Save Calgary believes that City Councillors shouldn't be allowed to fiddle with our democracy.

An independent commission - not politicians and bureaucrats - should decide the boundaries of our Wards for the 2021 election, and every subsequent election.

If you agree with us, here are two things you can do to help:

  1. Participate in the Ward boundary survey and make it clear that you think this process should be scrapped.

    You can complete the survey online here.
  2. Contact your local City Councillor and tell them to stop meddling in our democracy. Tell them an independent commission should oversee this process AND have the final say about Ward boundaries.

There's a term for politicians who try and draw Ward boundaries to suit their own political purposes - it's called "gerrymandering."

And there's phrase for politicians who unfairly influence the outcome of an election - it's called "rigging it."

Tell your Councillor that Calgarians won't accept this bogus, political process for drawing our new municipal Ward boundaries.



Save Calgary

P.S. Save Calgary is digging up examples of bad City Council expenses - shocking examples of how your tax dollars are being used. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter to see those examples! Also, if you support the work of Save Calgary, then please consider making a donation to us at to help us fight for taxpayers down at City Hall!

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