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Letter: Recall legislation would make politicians accountable

The Confederation Building in St. John's, Newfoundland. — file
Confederation Building in St. John’s. — Telegram file photo

Recall legislation has recently been getting attention from all corners of the country, but what does it mean for voters? An electoral recall is a process by which voters can remove an elected official from office before the end of their term. This is important because it allows voters to take direct action if they feel that an elected official is not performing their duties to voter expectations.

The recall process is usually driven by citizens who gather signatures from voters in their district. Currently, only the province of British Columbia has recall legislation in Canada. In B.C., a recall initiative requires a petition signed by more than 40 per cent of the eligible voters in a district to trigger a recall and a byelection. It offers voters in that province an opportunity to directly hold politicians accountable.

There is currently an initiative being undertaken via an online petition to implement recall legislation federally. Sponsored by Wayne Stetski, MP for Kootenay-Columbia, the petition calls upon the House of Commons to “develop recall legislation as a means of instilling trust in our government to provide an open, ethical and transparent government to ensure that our elected officials are held accountable to the people for the promises and mandates under which the people put their trust in and voted for.”

I wholeheartedly endorse this initiative to bring accountability to our federal members, and I encourage people to take a moment and sign the petition to add their support. You can find the petition here: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1465

While this petition is for federal recall legislation, it offers us a great opportunity to start a discussion about the merits of implementing recall legislation for Newfoundland and Labrador. I believe that the people of the province deserve a mechanism to hold their elected officials accountable to the promises they have made.

As part of the mandate letter to Justice and Public Safety Minister Andrew Parsons, the premier tasked him with “Bringing a resolution to the House of Assembly to establish an All Party Committee on Democratic Reform.” I would like to see recall legislation on the agenda for any such committee, and in any future discussions about democratic reform for our province. While recall legislation is absolutely necessary, appropriate checks and balances are needed to ensure this process maintains the integrity of the electoral process. We must balance the need for recall options with the ability for an elected official to perform their duties, and develop a process for recall that ensures integrity and prevents frequent or unnecessary byelections.

Recall legislation is an essential step that is needed to help restore accountability for our elected officials and to renew the confidence of voters in our democratic process. I encourage everyone to contact their MHA, Minister Parsons and Premier Dwight Ball to let them know that you support recall legislation for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Paul Lane, MHA, Mount Pearl—Southlands

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