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9 A Symbol Mr. Grundy pulled out a picture. It showed a gold-painted pipe with red velvet and ornamentation at one end. A critical look at the picture revealed that the ornamentation was made from what looked like cup handles and buttons. “What do you think this is?” asked Mr. Grundy. Alex suggested that it resembled something that would be part of the regalia for a king or queen, if it were made of gold instead of gold paint, and jewels instead of buttons. “You’re pretty close, Alex,” said Mr. Grundy. “This is a mace. Back in medieval times, a mace was a weapon that could penetrate armour. Over time, it became a symbol of the authority of the government and of the monarch. That’s when people began to make maces out of precious stones and metals.” He passed the photograph around. “We’re going to learn about Alberta’s Legislative Assembly. This mace dates from Alberta’s first Legislative Assembly in 1905. Somebody remembered they needed a mace – in a hurry! So, they built one out of scrap materials. That’s the one in this photograph. “Many of the customs that we have in our government are historical, and link together democratic traditions from the past. We have learned about some of those traditions this year.” He paused as he looked at the photo once more. “You know I admire the new mace, but I love the original, too. And you can still see it on display in the Legislature building.” 240 Chapter Focus Questions • How is provincial government structured? • What does the provincial electoral process involve? • What are the roles of provincial representatives? How does the provincial government function?

09 AB6 Ch 9 - Nelson passed the photograph around. s Legislative Assem. This mace dates from s first Legislative Assem bly in 1905. Som ebody rem em bered they needed a m y! So, they

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  • 9

    A Symbol

    Mr. Grundy pulled out a picture. It showed a gold-painted pipe with red

    velvet and ornamentation at one end. A critical look at the picture

    revealed that the ornamentation was made from what looked like cup

    handles and buttons.

    What do you think this is? asked Mr. Grundy. Alex suggested that it

    resembled something that would be part of the regalia for a king or

    queen, if it were made of gold instead of gold paint, and jewels instead

    of buttons.

    Youre pretty close, Alex, said Mr. Grundy. This is a mace. Back in

    medieval times, a mace was a weapon that could penetrate armour. Over

    time, it became a symbol of the authority of the government and of the

    monarch. Thats when people began to make maces out of precious

    stones and metals. He passed the photograph around.

    Were going to learn about Albertas Legislative Assembly. This mace

    dates from Albertas first Legislative Assembly in 1905. Somebody

    remembered they needed a mace in a hurry! So, they built one out of

    scrap materials. Thats the one in this photograph.

    Many of the customs that we have in our government are historical, and

    link together democratic traditions from the past. We have learned about

    some of those traditions this year. He paused as he looked at the photo

    once more. You know I admire the new mace, but I love the original,

    too. And you can still see it on display in the Legislature building.


    Chapter Focus Questions

    How is provincial government structured?

    What does the provincial electoral process invo


    What are the roles of provincial representatives


    How does theprovincial governmentfunction?

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:52 AM Page 240

  • What are we learning in this chapter?In the previous chapter, you learned how local governments work. This chapterexplores how provincial government works. You will investigate its structure andlearn about the provincial electoral process. Provincial government and localgovernment have similarities and important differences, too. For example,provincial government involves political parties, where one party forms agoverning group and other parties become the opposition. Youll learn about theroles of elected provincial representatives, and discover how to take part indecision making at the provincial level.

    Why are we learning this?Provincial government has a lot to do with your life as a Grade 6 student. Forexample, think of the words you are reading right now. The provincial departmentof education had a role writing in these words, because it is responsible for thecurriculum the topics you learn about every day in school. Now think beyondthis textbook. On a larger scale, the department of education allocates money toschool boards and decides whether to build new schools. Heres another example:the provincial health department provides your vaccinations, and on a larger scale,allocates money for hospitals and hospital staff. Each provincial governmentdepartment has an effect on your life, in ways that are both straightforward andcomplicated.

    Elected representatives are always willing to give information and have input fromGrade 6 students. They want you to know how democratic government works.

    Thats another reason to dig into this chapter, because your inquiriesabout government will always be welcome.

    This is the Legislature building, wherethe representatives elected from acrossthe province meet to debate topicsand make decisions.

    Chapter 9 241

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:52 AM Page 241

  • Chapter 9 Inquiry Task


    Debate a topic of provincialimportance

    IntroductionVoicing your opinion has always been a democratic right.Equally, listening with an open mind to the opinions ofothers has always been a democratic responsibility. Adebate is a particular way to explore opinions andperspectives. It starts with a proposed action. An individualpresents reasons and evidence for supporting the action.Then, another person presents the opposite viewpoint:reasons and evidence for not supporting the action. Thediscussion goes back and forth, like a tennis match, asdifferent ideas are brought forward, first on one side andthen on the other.

    Debates are courteous and follow strict rules. They requirecritical thinking, because everyone involved has aresponsibility to make the best decision. Sometimes, thebest decision comes from ideas on both sides of thedebate. In our provincial legislature, representatives useformal debates to discuss topics. Government budgets,plans and potential lawsare always debated,because debate providesa way to considerperspectives andexamine topics closely.

    SKILLSat Work

    7SK ILL



    For this task, youneed to debate acurrent events topicyou identify on TV,the radio or in yournewspaper. Checkout the SkillsCentre for tips ondebates and onassessing currentaffairs.

    present opinionsin debates

    analyze significantcurrent affairs

    SKILLSat Work

    This student is sitting at the desk of a Hansard editor.Hansard is the official word-for-word record ofdebates in the Legislative Assembly. Hansard editorslisten to audio files and convert them to print, whichis then available in hard copy or online. Why isHansard important in a democratic government?

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:52 AM Page 242

  • Chapter 9 243

    The task

    Step 1: Prepare a DebateScan your newspaper and listen to news reports for topicsprovoking discussion among the people in Alberta.

    Research the topic, and draft a statement about an actionthe provincial government could take. Try finishing thissentence: The provincial government should

    Prepare two short (a minute or less) talks that takeopposing sides on the action.

    Step 2: DebatePresent one of the sides you have prepared in a debatewith another student.

    Step 3: Think CriticallyListen to others present their talks. Think critically, with anopen mind, about what you hear. Decide where you standon each talk. Do you agree strongly, agree, disagree ordisagree strongly? Record your decision and why youcame to that decision.

    Step 4: Plan ActionOutline a plan for bringing your ideas on the topic to theattention of the appropriate provincial representative.Include specific details, such as titles (e.g., Minister ofChildrens Services), e-mail and postal addresses ortelephone numbers in your plan.

    Step 5: Take ActionOutline the topic and what you think should be done.Support your ideas with reasons and evidence.

    Things to think about before starting the taskThe choice of topic is important. Some issues are very one-sided, or dont have different points of view. Look for atopic that has a variety of viewpoints.

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:52 AM Page 243

  • Getting Started

    What provincial topicsmight spark debate amongAlbertans?

    The provincial government makesdecisions about natural resourcedevelopment, such as forestry.This photo shows logged areasready for reseeding along theAthabasca River.

    Albertas government isresponsible forbuilding and wideningroads that connecturban centres. Howmight that affect you?

    Many laws thataffect wildlife comefrom the provincialgovernment, suchas laws abouthunting grizzlies.

    Albertas governmentprovides funding forathletes. The athletes inthis photo competed inthe Western CanadaSummer Games in 2007.

    Provincial lawsdetermine how old youhave to be to drive anall-terrain vehicle. Howmight this affect you?


    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:52 AM Page 244

  • How is provincialgovernment structured?

    Whats important?Know that provincial government has a political partysystem.

    Time for Parties!

    Listen class, said Mr. Grundy. We are going to lea


    about parties!

    The class knew there had to be a catch somewhere.

    It was

    already past Halloween, Christmas and Valentines D

    ay. It

    seemed too early to be thinking about end-of-year

    graduation parties. Everyone waited to see what Mr.

    Grundy meant.

    Were going to learn about political parties. A polit


    party is a group of people who have similar ideas ab


    how to run the province, and who have grouped to


    to take action. Political parties nominate candidates

    to run

    in provincial elections for the Legislative Assembly. S


    people run without belonging to a party. They are ca


    independents because, as you can guess, they hold


    own independent beliefs about government.

    Craig Cheffins, Liberalcandidate for Calgary-Elbow, talks to votersduring the Lilac Festivalin Calgary. What practicalways to participate doprovincial elections offerGrade 6 students? Whatcan you conclude fromthis photo?

    SKILLSat Work

    1SK ILL



    As you read thissection on thestructure ofprovincialgovernment, thinkabout what itmeans for you.How does thestructure ofgovernment helpyou participate init?

    critically evaluateideas, informationand positions

    SKILLSat Work

    Chapter 9 245

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:52 AM Page 245

  • 246


    What similaritiesand differences canyou identify so farbetween theLegislativeAssembly ofAlberta and localgovernments?Identify at least one similarity andone difference.

    Media Gallery




    PublicGallery Mace


    The Speaker is an MLA elected by the other MLAs to run meetings of the Legislative Assembly.The galleries are places for the media and the public to observe the proceedings of the assembly.The galleries are in balconies that overlook the assembly.

    Inside the LegislativeAssembly of Alberta The Legislative Assembly has 83 elected

    representatives. Representatives are called Members ofthe Legislative Assembly (MLAs). Winning an electiongives a representative the right to a seat, or a place inthe assembly.

    Each seat in the assembly matches an area of theprovince called an electoral division or constituency.Think of it this way: the Mtis Nation of Alberta hasregions (see page 162), some local governments havewards (see page 202), and the Alberta LegislativeAssembly has constituencies.

    In the assembly, the party that wins the most seatsforms the government. Parties that have fewer seatsform the opposition. The opposition has different ideasand goals than the government, and it challenges theideas the government puts forward. The party with thesecond-largest number of elected representatives iscalled the Official Opposition.

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:52 AM Page 246

  • Chapter 9 247

    This is the inside of the chamber where the Legislative Assemblymeets. The mace usually sits on a table between the seats for thegovernment and the opposition, but this photo was taken on aspecial day in the assembly. The mace has been moved to makeroom for chairs for special guests.

    Ben and Kianna are Grade 6students who took a tour of theLegislature building with theirclass. Do you agree with thecomments these students made?

    If we didnt have an opposition, wed have a dictatorship*. Government needs people who have different ideas. It is very important to be involved in government because it affects all of us at every age.

    Government is really important. You need to know about government to know how it affects you and how to make it work for you.

    *A dictatorship is agovernment that does not allow an opposition.

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:53 AM Page 247

  • 248

    The Roles of Political Parties inProvincial Government

    Lets look at what political parties do.

    The political party forming theGovernment

    has more MLAs than theparties forming the opposition

    holds a specific set of ideas

    defends its ideas throughdebate with the opposition

    collects and spends taxes

    defends how it handles topicsof concern

    The political parties forming theOpposition

    have fewer MLAs than theparty forming the government

    have different ideas than thepolitical party forming thegovernment

    challenge government ideasthrough debate

    challenge how much thegovernment collects in taxesand how it spends taxes

    inform the public about topicsof concern, and challenge thegovernments actions on topicsof concernPausePause

    How do political parties help peoplewith different points of view andperspectives have a voice inprovincial decision making?

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:53 AM Page 248

  • Chapter 9 249

    What does the provincialelectoral process involve?

    Whats important?Compare the electoral process for local government andthe provincial assembly.

    How are provincial representatives elected?Provincial elections are held at least every five years.When an election is announced, voting takes place 28days later. The four weeks leading up to the vote are verybusy and exciting for everybody!

    Provincial Electoral Process Step 1: NominatingMost provincial candidates belong to political parties. Only onecandidate per party can run in a constituency. Often, several peoplefrom the same party want to run in a the same canstituency. Then,the party members in the constituency must choose their candidatein a vote.

    Some people run as independents candidates who do not belongto a party.

    All candidates must complete a nomination form that lists thesignatures of 25 eligible voters from their constituency.

    Nominating for Provincial Elections

    In each constituency, membersof political parties vote tochoose a candidate forelection.

    Individuals can be nominatedas independent candidates.

    Candidates must beknowledgeable about therequired duties for a Memberof the Legislative Assembly(MLA).

    Nominating for Local Elections

    Individuals are nominated.There are no connections topolitical parties involved in theprocess.

    Candidates must beknowledgeable about therequired duties for amayor/reeve, orcouncillor/alderman

    Whats the difference?

    f reedoms

    representat ion


    just ice

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:53 AM Page 249

  • 250

    Provincial Electoral Process Step 2: CampaigningThe excitement builds! Candidates set up bustling campaign offices.

    Campaign offices get information about their candidates to the votersof their constituency. Volunteers phone voters, deliver campaignliterature door to door, set up signs, and answer questions by e-mail.They arrange interviews with media reporters investigating the views oftheir candidate on topics of concern.

    Campaigning for Provincial Elections

    Candidates are supported bytheir political party members.

    Campaign costs are supportedby political party donations.

    Campaign literature identifiesthe political party andcandidate.

    Candidates must go door todoor, attend forums and givemedia interviews.

    Campaigning for Local Elections

    Candidates are not supportedby a political party.

    Campaign costs are notsupported by political partydonations.

    Campaign literature, colours,slogans or icons are candidatechoices.

    Candidates must go door todoor, attend forums and givemedia interviews.

    Whats the difference?

    As you learn about the provincial electoral process on thenext pages, think about ways Grade 6 students can takepart in provincial elections. AlthoughGrade 6 students cant vote, they haveother opportunities to participate.

    critically evaluate ideas, information andpositions




    SKILLS at WorkSKILLS at Work

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:53 AM Page 250

  • Chapter 9 251

    Political parties usually have logos and colours,and create signs for their candidates. The signsgo up during elections. How might putting up asign influence the results of an election?

    An oath is a solemn promise that you are telling thetruth. Breaking an oath is the same as breaking the law.

    Provincial Electoral Process Step 4: Showing Eligibility to VoteTo vote in a provincial election, a person must be at least 18 years old andhave lived in Alberta for at least six months. Voters must also live in theconstituency where they cast their vote. Voters can register with the office ofthe Chief Electoral Officer at any time. If they want to register on electionday: they must provide two pieces of identification and take an oath.

    Provincial Electoral Process Step 3: Preparing the Polling StationsAlberta has a law about how provincial elections are run. The ChiefElectoral Officer is a person who works for the Legislative Assembly andmakes sure the law is followed.

    Each constituency is divided into polls, or voting sites. The ChiefElectoral Officer makes sure every poll has a list of registered voters.When voters come to a poll, election officials check their names againstthe list and cross them off.

    The Chief Electoral Officer is responsible for training election officials and making sure they have the right ballots for their polls.

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/7/08 3:01 PM Page 251

  • Provincial Electoral Process Step 5: Casting and Counting VotesAdvance polls are provided for voters who will be away or busy onelection day. What provisions are there for any Albertans outside theprovince, such as our Armed Forces? Ballots are sent to them ahead ofvoting day. Their completed ballots arrive by plane before the polls close,to make sure those votes count!

    At each poll, an empty ballot box is displayed and locked, and twoofficials are in charge of watching it, so nobody stuffs in extra votes.Other officials make sure everyone votes only once. People in nursing

    homes and hospitals who cant get out to vote haveballot boxes carried to their bedsides

    by election officials.The intention is togive as manypeople theirdemocratic right to vote as possible!

    Abbott, TonyProgressive ConservativeCunningham, VionaWildrose Alliance

    Erickson, EdwinAlberta Greens

    Higgerty, LauraLiberal

    Oberle, LynnNew Democrat

    Knopp, ElmerIndependent

    f reedoms

    representat ion


    just ice


    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:53 AM Page 252

  • Provincial Electoral Process Step 6: Declaring the OutcomeWhen the polls are officially declared closed on voting day, excitement ishigh. Across the province, officials open the locked ballot boxes and tip thevotes onto tables for counting by hand. Scrutineers observe the count. Thenumber of votes needs to exactly match the voters crossed off the list ofregistered voters for that poll.

    Each ballot can only have one candidate marked as a choice. Ballots markedwith more than one choice are considered spoiled and are not counted.

    The polling stations send their vote counts to an electoral office in theirconstituency. When all the votes are counted, the office declares a winner.

    Television cameras record the announcement of the winners as the resultscome in. The party with the majority of votes will form the government.Sometimes the winning party is known early on in the counting; at othertimes, everybody must wait until the end. In any constituency, a recount canbe called if the numbers are very close, and this can cause delays inknowing who has won a seat. When the winning party is finallydeclared, so is the premier. The premier of the province is alwaysthe leader of the party with the most seats. It will be up to her orhim to lead the new government!

    Chapter 9 253


    Are there reallyany losers if anelection is fair anddemocratic? Why?


    The number of votes can showlarge differences from poll to poll.Why does this happen?

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/7/08 3:01 PM Page 253

  • 254

    Do a quick online research project. See if the numbers in the chart above havechanged. What has happened to the population of Calgary, Edmonton and the restof the province since 2007? What has happened to the number of provincialconstituencies? What explanations can you give?

    access and retrieve information from the Internet by using a specificsearch path

    use graphs, tables, charts and Venn diagrams to interpretinformation

    6SK ILL



    SKILLS at WorkSKILLS at Work


    How is being able tochange electoralboundaries a sign of democracy?

    Population Number of provincial constituencies

    0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 0 10 20 30 40 50

    Calgary1.02 million

    Edmonton0.73 million

    Rest of Alberta1.55 million




    Whats important?Understand how population affects constituencies.

    How are constituenciesdetermined?Albertas 83 elected representatives come from 83constituencies, which are set through electoral or votinglaw. A number of factors determine the area andboundaries of constituencies, such as population statisticsand natural divides created by mountains or rivers.

    It is important that the constituencies change with changesin Albertas population. Until 1950, most of Albertaspopulation lived in rural areas, so Alberta had many morerural constituencies than urban constituencies. Today,Albertans live in urban centres in fact, more than halflive in Calgary and Edmonton. How does the chart belowreflect the way constituencies have changed in response?

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:53 AM Page 254

  • Chapter 9 255

    Alberta Provincial Constituencies, 2007SKILLSat Work

    3SK ILL



    Most constituencieshave a populationbetween 31 000and 40 000. Whyare their areasdifferent? Howdoes this reflectfairness and equityin a democracy?

    identifygeographicproblems andissues and posegeographicquestions

    SKILLSat Work


    Why are population statistics important in running ademocratic government?





    100 km0



    W E

    Raj Pannu, MLA for Edmonton Strathcona from 1997to 2008, makes pancakes at a function organized athis constituency office. As an MLA, he representedthe 29 000 members of his constituency.

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:53 AM Page 255

  • 256

    SKILLSat Work

    2SK ILL



    Examine the photosand captions of thepremiers of Albertaon this page. Whatchanges over timedo they illustrate?

    use primarysources tointerpret historicalevents and issues

    SKILLSat Work

    Alexander RutherfordLiberal Party, 1905

    John BrownleeUnited Farmers ofAlberta, 1921

    William AberhartSocial Credit Party, 1935

    Peter LougheedProgressiveConservative Party, 1971

    Whats important?Understand the varied responsibilities of MLAs.

    What are the roles ofprovincial representatives?

    Who is the premier?The leader of the party that wins the most seats in aprovincial election becomes the premier. The premierleads the government. The premier is a Member of theLegislative Assembly, and represents the voters of oneconstituency. As leader of the government, he or she alsorepresents Albertans. In provincial elections, however, theposition of premier is never on the ballot for voters. If aleader of a political party wins a seat and that party is inthe majority, then the leader is the premier.

    Think About the Task

    For your chapter task, you need to describe a plan forbringing your ideas on a current affairs topic to theattention of provincial representatives. Use the informationin this section to think carefully about how best to do this.How might the jobs and schedules of provincialrepresentatives affect your choices?

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/7/08 3:01 PM Page 256

  • Chapter 9 257

    Responsibilities of Members ofthe Legislative Assembly

    Attending Sessions of the Legislative AssemblyThis is one of the most important responsibilities of everyMLA. When the Legislative Assembly is in session itmeans all the MLAs are meeting to debate and vote onproposed laws. This happens for certain periods of timeeach year, determined by the political party that forms thegovernment. The assembly usually meets in the spring andthe fall for a few weeks.

    Communicating with ConstituentsIn addition to offices in or near the Legislature, each MLAhas a constituency office in his or her constituency. There,knowledgeable staff help the public and keep the MLAinformed about public concerns. MLAs slot times whenthey are available to meet with constituents. Some MLAswrite columns in local newspapers or send out flyers withconstituency news. When the Legislative Assembly ismeeting, MLAs need to be at the Legislature. A typical dayfor an MLA seems packed with official meetings, or seeingindividuals or groups who are seeking advice or support.All MLAs attend many social functions to keep in contactwith their constituents.


    Over the course ofa year, some MLAstravel 80 000kilometres goingto and from theirconstituencies.Why do you thinkthey do this,instead of usingother ways to stayin touch?

    Wayne Cao, MLA forCalgary-Fort, celebratesCanada Day with some ofhis constituents. If youcall the constituencyoffice of your MLA, youcan find out what eventshe or she plans to attend.What opportunity toparticipate might thisoffer you, as a Grade 6student?

    f reedoms

    representat ion


    just ice

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:53 AM Page 257

  • Pearl Calahasen, centre, was born and raised in Grouard, Alberta. She is a member ofthe Mtis Nation of Alberta, of teacher organizations, and of the High Prairie NativeFriendship Centre. Her membership in many organizations helps her understand theneeds of her constituents.


    Supporting the Needs of ConstituentsMLAs make the needs of their constituents known bydebating and discussing issues or concerns with otherrepresentatives. Because MLAs are knowledgeable aboutgovernment ministries, they can make referrals, seekadvice and act as advocates for their constituents. MLAsalso help special-interest groups, such as those concernedwith the environment or health and education issues. Theexperiences that MLAs bring to their work help themunderstand the needs of their constituents and how best tosupport them.

    Representing their constituents in the Legislative Assembly is amongan MLAs most important roles. Why is it important to berepresented in the Legislative Assembly? How does your MLA giveyou a way to participate in the decisions of the Legislative Assembly?


    How do the experiences of MLAs helpsupport their work with constituents?

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:53 AM Page 258

  • 16 November 2007 Constituency Day

    7 a.m. 7:107:40 Interview with the Calgary Eyeopener (media interview)

    8 a.m. 8:30 Media Conference on Green Energy Plan (Legislature)9 a.m.

    10 a.m. Caucus Meeting11 a.m.12 a.m. Louis Riel Ceremony at Legislature (speaking role)1 p.m.2 p.m. Constituency meeting3 p.m.

    4 p.m. Meeting with constituents about proposed changes tolabour laws (constituency office)

    5 p.m.6 p.m. 6:0011:00 Mtis Nation of Alberta function (speaking role)

    I asked Brian Mason to describe a typical day in his life as an MLA. He said hed rather show me. Here is a page he e-mailed me from his schedule.

    A Day in the Life of an MLA

    Whats important?Understand the role of MLAs in representing their constituents.

    Chapter 9 259

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:54 AM Page 259

  • 260

    My Notes

    A caucus meeting is a meeting of all the MLAs

    belonging to the same party.

    A constituency meeting involves the staff who

    work in an MLAs constituency office. People

    often contact the constituency office with

    concerns, and the staff take down their contact

    information and make notes for follow-up.

    When the Legislature is in session, Mr. Mason


    schedule changes. He spends part of every

    morning preparing for Question Period, and

    spends every afternoon at the Legislature


    Question Period is when opposition MLAs

    challenge the way the goverment is handling

    current affairs. They ask questions, and MLAs

    from the government respond.

    Brian Mason was a city councillor for 11 years beforehe was elected MLA of Edmonton-Highlands in 2000.


    How do associations such as the Mtis Nationof Alberta provide MLAs with information andperspectives? How does this help themrepresent the people of Alberta?

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:54 AM Page 260

  • Chapter 9 261

    A Day in the Life of a CabinetMinister

    Whats important?Understand the responsibilities of cabinet ministers.

    Whats a cabinet minister?The premier chooses cabinet ministers from among theMLAs that belong to his or her party. Cabinet ministers areresponsible for specific ministries or departments, such asthe Ministry of Education or the Ministry of ChildrensServices. Ministries have staff to carry out the directions ofcabinet ministers. Together, the premier and cabinetministers are called the Executive Council. They holdregular meetings to discuss the governments aims and putthem into practice.

    Hi, Im Brittany! I wanted to know what a cabinet minister does. The Honourable Iris Evans is the Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry. I asked if I could follow her for a day to see what she does. Her office told me to wear running shoes. I thought they were joking but they werent.

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:54 AM Page 261

  • 262

    Ms. Evans has an awesome office in the Legislaturebuilding that looks onto the grounds. She had trays ofsquares out, because I was visiting. She invited me to getwhatever I wanted to drink. She meant it, because therewere ten kinds of pop in her fridge! We sat on a couch inher office. She told me that her ministry has to introducebills, which are proposed laws. Part of her job is toencourage companies to invest in Alberta. Another part isto attract workers to Alberta and help them live here.

    As we talked, her staff gave her a list of all of her meetingsthrough the day. We ran upstairs for some and randownstairs for others. She met with cabinet ministers fromthe Northwest Territories to exchange ideas. She also metwith Alberta cabinet ministers to plan a trip to Asia topromote investing and working in Alberta.

    Working for ConstituentsLike all MLAs, Ms. Evans is responsible forrepresenting her constituents. Her day starts early often at 4:00 a.m. First, she goes over papers from herconstituency office, dropped off at her house thenight before. Breakfast is a helping of politics overporridge.

    Ms. Evans goes to the constituency office regularly.Visitors are scheduled every half hour. Concernsrange from how to apply for sports funding, tochanges in daycare regulations, to problems inaccessing health care. Ms. Evans and her staff takenotes on all these meetings for follow-up later. Lunchis a working concern, too. It may involve hosting agirls soccer team that has won a provincialchampionship, or meeting with a group raising fundsfor cancer research. After lunch, there are moremeetings, and letters to be written and signed.Frequently, dinner also involves constituency work,and the evening finishes late.

    Before becoming an MLA, Ms. Evans served in localgovernment. She was a school board trustee, amunicipal councillor, and a reeve.

    Grade 6 students oftenvisit MLAs with theirparents, or with groupssuch as Girl Guides andBoy Scouts. Here, LisaMead and her father visitIris Evans in herconstituency office.

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:54 AM Page 262

  • Chapter 9 263

    During lunch, Ms. Evans had a conference phone call withthe mayor of Calgary. They talked over plans in case astrike of emergency medical workers went ahead. She alsoused that telephone time to share some Chinese food withme (yummy) and clean her desk.

    Part of the job as Minister of Employment, Immigration andIndustry involves safe and fair workplaces. On the day Iwas there, she met with a group concerned about cleaningup houses where illegal drugs had been grown. Theytalked about the dangers to workers who have to go intothese houses later. For example, many of the houses haveillegal electrical wiring. They had posters showingexamples of illegal wiring. It looked like spaghetti verydangerous spaghetti. I wondered what people could doabout this problem. They said there was a telephonenumber to report any suspicious houses.

    I could have gone to more meetings, but by then I wasreally tired. I think it would be interesting to have a joblike Ms. Evans has.

    Ms. Evans meets withindustry and governmentofficials from China at aseminar in Beijing onopportunities in Alberta.

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:54 AM Page 263

  • 264

    After my day with Iris Evans, I decided to talk to her counterpart in the opposition. Every cabinet minister in government has a shadow minister in the opposition. Check out my e-mail and then have a look at my notes.

    To: Dr. Bruce Miller

    MLA for Edmonton-Glenora

    Dear Dr. Miller,

    Please could you tell me what you believe is therole of the opposition, and the role of the ShadowCabinet? How can Grade 6 students participate ingovernment?

    Thank you,


    What is the role of oppositionMLAs?

    Whats important?Understand the responsibilities of opposition MLAs.

    Can you imagine the dangers of having a governmentthat can make any decisions it wants, without discussionor constructive criticism? In some places of the world,that happens. Democracy needs open dialogue amongpeople and groups with different viewpoints andperspectives. The opposition has a very vital role inpresenting and debating those different viewpoints. Theopposition is often called a watchdog because of itsrole in ensuring that government decisions are fair anddemocratic.

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  • Notes from my conversation with Dr. Miller The opposition:

    Helps make the government more accountableWhen the Legislature is in session, Question Period occurs every day at 1:30. Itlasts for 50 minutes. This is the chance for the opposition to ask the governmentquestions that it must answer. The opposition asks the most urgent questionsand anything that is news-breaking. If there is a train derailment or a waterproblem, the opposition will ask what the government is doing about that. Helps make all voices heard

    During debates, the opposition brings up the viewpoints of peoplewho dont agree with what the government is planning. Everybodyhas a right to have their opinion heard. Has shadow ministers

    Shadow ministers learn about the topics and concerns that particularministries deal with. This helps the opposition ask effective questionsduring Question Period. Also if the opposition wins an election,they will be prepared.

    How Grade 6 Students Can Participate in GovernmentDr. Miller had these suggestions:

    Present a petition.

    Any Albertan can ask an MLA to present a petition to the Assembly. Write letters.

    One student wrote to Dr. Miller about making a law requiring adults to wearbicycle helmets. Dr. Miller agrees this is a good idea. Suggest a private members bill.All MLAs can draft bills to voice their personal views, calledprivate members bills. These are discussed Monday afternoonswhen the Legislature is in session. There isnt enough time todiscuss all the bills, so the MLAs hold a draw. If Dr. Miller getslucky, he will propose a bill for adults to wear helmets!

    Think About the Task

    Why might it be useful tocontact an MLA in theopposition about a topic ofconcern to you?

    Bruce Miller was aUnited Churchminister in Lethbridge,St. Paul and Edmontonbefore he became anMLA in 2004.

    Chapter 9 265

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  • 266

    SKILLSat Work

    2SK ILL



    The names ofministries and theservices they offerchange fromgovernment togovernment,depending on theaims of the politicalparty that wins anelection. Whatministries does thegovernment havetoday?

    use examples ofevents to describecause and effectand change overtime

    SKILLSat Work

    What are the responsibilitiesof government at theprovincial level?

    Whats important?Discover the role of the provincial government inproviding services to Albertans and how it pays for services.

    What services does the provincial governmentprovide?Just like local governments, provincial governments areresponsible for passing laws and providing services. Thefocus of the provincial government, however, is on mattersthat affect the whole province.

    To learn about the services offered by the provincialgovernment, you can investigate the ministries of thegovernment. As you learned on page 261, Iris Evans wasresponsible for the ministry of Employment, Immigrationand Industry. All the ministries of the provincialgovernment are listed and available on the Albertagovernment website, so that citizens know where to go forhelp and advice. They are also listed in the blue pages ofthe phone book.

    This section outlines some examples of ministries.

    Think About the Task

    How might contacting a cabinet minister bringattention to a topic that concerns you? How couldyou find out which cabinet minister to contact?

    09 AB6 Ch 9.11 4/3/08 7:55 AM Page 266

  • Case Study

    Provincial Ministriesand Services, 2007

    Ministry of Agriculture and FoodThis ministry takes care of food producers as well asconsumers. It helps food producers with loans andfinancing, marketing programs, and information andresearch. It protects consumers by setting food standardsand issuing licences. For example, dairy farms that processmilk must get a licence. This ensures the farms followprocedures that produce safe milk. What impact does thisservice have on you?

    Ministry of Health and WellnessThis ministry costs $12 billion a year to run. It uses one-third of all government spending and costs $1.4 million anhour. This money pays for services provided by hospitalsand medical workers. This ministry also provides socialservices, such as support for people who need help meetingtheir basic needs.

    Ministry of Infrastructure and TransportInfrastructure refers to the structures that a society needs,such as publicly owned buildings and lands, roads andbridges. This ministry is responsible for building andmaintaining the many thousands of miles of provincialhighways and roads that link urban areas. In 2007, thisministry planned to complete freeways in Calgary andEdmonton, for a total cost of more than a billion dollars.In what ways is this ministry important to your life?

    A billion dollars! Its hard to imagine that much money. Where does the provincial government get the money it spends?


    How do the servicesprovided by the provincialgovernment reflectfairness and equity?

    Chapter 9 267

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  • 268

    How does the provincialgovernment pay for services?

    Just like local governments, Albertasgovernment collects taxes to pay for theservices it provides. It collects income tax a tax paid by citizens of Alberta based onhow much money they earn. Albertasgoverment then makes decisions about howto spend taxes by preparing a budget. You learned about taxes in Chapter 8, onpage 223.

    Debating the budget proposed by the government is animportant part of an MLAs job, because the budgetdetermines what services the government will provide thepeople of Alberta.

    SKILLSat Work




    Examine the graphon this page. Whattwo services didthe governmentspend the mostmoney on in 2007?

    Using graphs tointerpretinformation

    SKILLSat Work

    Health 32%

    Social Services 13%

    Education 31%

    Resource Conservation and Industry 7%


    Environment 2%

    Recreation and Culture 1%

    Transportation and Communications 5%

    Miscellaneous 9%

    Spending by Albertas Provincial Government, 2007Legend

    Some of the moneyavailable to theprovincial governmentalso comes from the oiland gas industry. Thepeople of Alberta ownthe oil and gas in theprovince, and collectfees from oil companiesthat develop theseresources. Thecompanies pay the feesto the provincialgovernment, because itrepresents Albertans.These fees generate a lotof wealth for Alberta.

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  • Chapter 9 269

    Think About the Task

    In your chapter task, youneed to prepare a debateon a topic. Debate is animportant part of theway the LegislativeAssembly functions. Asyou read this section,count the number oftimes MLAs use debateto make laws.

    Debating is an importantfeature of democracy. Itallows many viewpointsto be heard andconsidered. This photoshows Kevin Taft, MLAfor Edmonton Riverview,making a point in theLegislature.


    Why does it make sense for vehicle safety to be aprovincial matter? How does this contribute to a well-functioning society?

    How does the LegislativeAssembly make laws?

    Whats important?Understand the role of debate in making laws in theLegislative Assembly.

    The Legislative Assembly makes laws that apply toeveryone in the province and that are of importance toeveryone in the province. For example, the assemblymakes laws about

    health care, including the kinds of services hospitalsprovide

    the environment, including laws about pollution andwildlife

    Education, including whether to build new schools

    vehicle safety, such as wearing seatbelts, and the agewhen you can drive a car or an ATV

    f reedoms

    representat ion


    just ice

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  • 270

    The Steps in Passing a Law in the Legislative Assembly

    Debating the Bill in Detail

    After studying the bill carefully, MLAs make suggestions on how to improve the bill. They can suggest

    adding, removing or changing specific points. The Legislative

    Assembly all the MLAs debate and vote on each suggestion, one by one. This process can change

    parts of the bill.

    Debating the Bill in Principle

    This step is called second reading. During this step,

    MLAs debate the main idea or principle of the bill.

    As a group, they decide whether to reject the bill or examine and debate it

    in more detail.

    Introducing a BillA bill is a proposed law. The step of introducing the bill is called its first reading. This step is like an announcement,

    to prepare the Legislative Assembly to debate the bill.

    What is the role of thelieutenant governor in theLegislative Assembly?

    Whats important?Understand the duties of the lieutenant governor.

    The lieutenant governor of Alberta is the monarchsrepresentative in the province. This person is not elected,but is appointed by the governor general of Canada, whoconsults with the premier of Alberta. Most lieutenantgovernors serve around five years.

    SKILLSat Work

    2SK ILL



    What does thelieutenant governorreflect about thehistory of theLegislativeAssembly?

    explain thehistorical contextof key events of agiven time period

    SKILLSat Work

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  • Chapter 9 271

    Royal AssentThe lieutenant governor of the

    province gives the bill Royal Assent. This

    makes it a law.

    The Vote Is TakenThe bill comes to a final vote of all the MLAs. If

    a majority of MLAs vote for the bill, it passes.

    Last Chance to Debate This step is called third

    reading. This is the last chance for MLAs to make comments

    about the bill. They may criticize or praise it. They may ask final questions about it.

    The lieutenant governor gives Royal Assent to bills thathave passed in a vote of the Legislative Assembly. RoyalAssent is a European tradition that goes back manycenturies. At one time, monarchs passed laws by making adecree or statement. When Parliament eventually took theright to make laws, monarchs kept the right to giveapproval. This is now a custom, which continues in ourLegislative Assembly.

    Queen Elizabeth II meetswith Alberta Lieutenant

    Governor Lois Hole in2000. Lois Hole was

    Lieutenant Governorfrom 2000 to 2005.

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  • 272

    Lieutenant Governor,Norman L. Kwong,reads the Speech to theThrone in March 2007.

    The Responsibilities of thelieutenant governor

    Represents the monarch

    The lieutenant governor is the monarchs representativein the province. This means that he or she is thehighest-ranking person in Alberta, after the monarchand the Governor General.

    Is impartial

    Just like the monarch, the lieutenant governor does notbelong to a political party and does not favour oneparty over another.

    Opens, and later discontinues, a session of theLegislature

    There is a formal protocol for beginning anddiscontinuing sessions of the Legislature that is theresponsibility of the lieutenant governor.

    Reads the Speech from the Throne

    This is a speech read by the monarch or the lieutenantgovernor at the beginning of each new session. Thespeech outlines what the government plans toaccomplish in the session.

    Grants Royal Assent to bills that have passed the thirdreading

    Royal Assent is a ceremony that requires the lieutenantgovernor to give final approval to a bill. This changes abill into an Act of the Legislature, and it becomes partof the law of the land.

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  • Chapter 9 273

    Principles of ProvincialGovernmentReview the following summary chart that describes theway Alberta is governed as a province. How does thegovernment of the province reflect the rights and freedomsof Canadians? Where do Grade 6 students fit in?

    Lieutenant governor represents the monarch andgives impartial Royal Assent to legislation

    Based on a democratic, political party system

    Alberta has 83 seats for elected representatives

    Government is formed by the party that holds thelargest number of seats

    Premier is head of the majority party

    Official Opposition is the party with the secondlargest number of seats

    Represent constituents needs, concerns and bestinterests

    Keep constituents informed

    Determine government policies

    Work out budget based on income and aims

    Draft bills

    Cabinet ministers are in charge of ministries

    Premier and cabinet also have their ownconstituency duties

    What is the structureof the Albertaprovincialgovernment?

    What responsibilitiesdo MLAs have?

    What responsibilitiesdo the premier andcabinet ministershave?

    A program at the Legislature provides Grade 6 studentsthe opportunity to enact passing a bill. This student isplaying the role of the lieutenant governor.


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  • 274

    Challenge and debate government policies and bills

    Provide a democratic voice for those with viewpointsdifferent from those of the government

    Government drafts bills (proposed laws)

    Bills go through debate in three readings and changesare made

    All MLAs vote on a bill

    Bills that are passed are given Royal Assent

    Through their MLAs

    Petitions, letters and e-mails, private members bills

    Voting in elections for the party that reflects theirviewpoints

    Whats the role ofthe opposition?

    What is the usualprocedure formaking governmentdecisions?

    How do members ofsociety influencegovernmentdecisions?

    This Grade 6 student is role-playing the Sergeant at Arms, theofficial who brings the mace into the Legislature when theLegislature is in session. Why are traditions like this important?

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  • Review! Review!1. What does the provincial electoral process involve?

    Make a comparison chart showing differences betweenthe electoral process of your local and provincialgovernment.

    2. How is provincial governmentstructured?

    Draw a diagram or picture ofprovincial government that shows itspolitical structure.

    3. Create a series of questionsthat illustrate the roles of thefollowing people in ademocracy:

    the premier

    the leader of the OfficialOpposition

    your MLA

    Role-play being aninterviewer with anotherstudent. Then, switch roles.

    Chapter 9 275

    f reedoms

    representat ion


    just ice

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