Petition circulating to recall Highwood MLA
Highwood: Group wants Danielle Smith to step down for byelection
Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015 12:18 pm
A group of concerned Albertans are aiming to hold Highwood MLA Danielle Smith accountable with a new petition that calls for Smith to resign her seat.
The “RecallDanielle.ca” petition is in response to Smith’s unexpected switch from leading the Wildrose Party to joining the Progressive Conservative party that she opposed for years.
The petition, which was started by Calgary UofC students Amanda Achtman and Caitlyn Madlener calls for Smith to resign her seat and run in a byelection to regain it as a PC candidate.
“The idea for the… petition is simple: Danielle Smith once advocated recall legislation — the right for voters to force a byelection in a riding where a representative has lost the trust and confidence of her constituents,” Achtman said. “Smith's acts of betrayal and disloyalty motivated us to promote the principle and policy that she herself once advocated.”
The petition began as an online movement and quickly drew thousands of signatures from Albertans, and even Canadians in other provinces. When Smith was asked about the petition in a televised interview, she noted that the recall legislation she advocated for would only be effective if 20 per cent of her Highwood Constituents signed a petition.
“She really tried to discredit the campaign and said it might have some bearing on being legitimate recall campaign in what she herself had championed,” said Recall Danielle volunteer Jeremy Fraser. “Caitlyn and Amanda took that as a challenge and decided to start collecting petition signatures.”
Smith was out of the province and unavailable for a comment on the petition before the Western Wheel’s press time.
As of last week, the online petition had nearly 8,500 signatures, but a new hard copy petition that has been circulating in Highwood has collected more than 700 signatures.
Fraser, who is a High River native and a friend of Achtman’s, said he volunteered right away to begin a door knocking campaign in Okotoks and High River to collect signatures.
“My biggest concern was the democratic principles, namely the trust of her constituents, and also Albertans in general in her abandoning her post as the leader of the opposition,” Fraser said. “She betrayed the trust of all Albertans by just dropping that post, so I think it’s important to get Albertans to ask her to step down.”
Right now, the goal is to get 6,000 signatures which would equate to 20 per cent of the Highwood voters.
While there is currently no recall legislation in Alberta, it’s something that Smith fought for as a Wildroser, and Fraser is hoping that she’ll stick to her word and give voters a say.
“I think it’s very do-able especially if the numbers that we have are any indication and the percentage of people we got signing up,” Fraser said. “Four out of five people I think was a pretty common experience for people door knocking in both Okotoks and High River.
So far they’ve managed to rally volunteers for the campaign in both High River and Okotoks went door to door on Dec. 27 and on Jan. 10. Fraser said people were eager to sign the petition and talk about the situation.
“We heard everything from people wanting a bit more explanation, not even sure what exactly had taken place since it happened so suddenly,” Fraser said, “to people just seeing our ‘recalldanille.ca’ buttons we were wearing and signing it right off the bat.”
Fraser said while he’s encouraged by the number of people signing, the bigger question is whether Smith would acknowledge the petition without any formal legislation requiring her to do so.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that Danielle smith could honour those principles that she stood for before and still leave some kind of legacy to the province other than simply betraying the trust of her constituents and Albertans in general,” Fraser said. “I think she may be realizing the mistake she made… I’m optimistic that she could still have integrity herself that she could still stand by the more fundamental principle of democratic reform that she championed.”
For more information on the petition, visit www.recalldanielle.ca.