Government Accountability in Alberta – Kevin Taft: Democracy Derailed (2007)

Kevin Taft was the leader of the Liberal Party of Alberta from 2004 to 2008. Ralph Klein was premier till 2006, when Ed Stelmach took over. Stelmach won the 2008 election, after which Taft resigned as leader of the opposition, but remained as an Edmonton MLA till 2012. Democracy Derailed was published in 2007.

The book’s thesis is that Alberta’s oil wealth has facilitated the entrenchment of single party politics, and that this dominance has damaged Alberta’s democracy.

Democracy Derailed (Courtesy: amazon.ca)

Democracy Derailed (Courtesy: amazon.ca)

Taft details the following:

  • Suppression of whistle-blowing, freedom of speech, identification of wrongdoing
  • The dubious sale of Holy Cross Hospital, and the deliberate exposure of workers, staff, and patients to asbestos inhalation during the subsequent renovations to the building
  • Voter fraud
  • Disproportional electoral representation
  • Lack of accountability in public business, and displacement and reduction of the role of the Legislature
  • Disregard of the auditor general
  • Absence of meaningful and independent internal audit
  • Abuse through redaction and delay of freedom of information
  • Insufficient management of conflicts of interest
  • Penurious funding and virtual surveillance of the official opposition
  • The complete ineffectiveness of the provincial Public Accounts Committee
  • The misuse of communications through government control of the public affairs committee

Taft concludes: “After decades of unchallenged power, the unforgivable and dangerous arrogance of government is inevitable.” However, most voters seem not to care, and the consequences of this apathy have been, and are, apparent elsewhere in Canada at all the levels of all three orders of government.

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