News / Calgary

Experts debate term limits on Calgary politicians

Municipal-level terms exist in the United States, but not really in Canada

There are currently no set term maximums for Calgary politicians.

Metro File

There are currently no set term maximums for Calgary politicians.

When a University of Calgary School of Public Policy study surfaced about municipal politician’s enjoying long, uninterrupted, careers in governance it created quite the buzz.

People took to social media, Twitter and Facebook – some like Jeromy Farkas, who is running for Ward 11 suggested set terms for municipal politicians.

Municipal-level terms exist in the United States. Places like New York City impose term limits for mayors.

Duane Bratt, political scientist and professor at Mount Royal University said there are no term limits in Canada, and there aren’t really terms at the councillor level in the U.S. either.

He said groups have proposed it, and the idea never gets very far in Canada.

“The benefit is to have a constant influx of new people and that it should be temporary position, it shouldn’t be a lifetime position,” said Bratt.  

The report didn’t suggest it was a negative thing, having politicians around for an average of 15 years, but did underline that local media was less likely to report on issues, and that conversely politicians were less likely to highlight.

As for how term limits would come to be in Calgary, that’s up to the provincial government to decide – and they’re not currently planning changes until after this municipal election.

The process works like this: they get feedback from citizens, they look into the feedback and conduct public consultations. But ultimately, to have term limits for municipal politicians the province would have to table changes to the Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA).

“We are always reviewing our legislation to ensure it is modern and responsive to the needs of Albertans,” wrote Shannon Greer, press secretary for Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson. “In consultation with Alberta’s municipal leaders it was determined that large-scale changes to the LAEA would be too difficult to implement in time for the elections this fall.”

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