Some Albertans say Senate nominee election is confusing, redundant

WATCH: With Albertans heading to the polls for municipal elections, some are questioning why a Senate nominee ballot has been included. As Matthew Conrod reports, Alberta has a history of taking a less-than-serious approach to these types of elections.

It’s a question that is likely on the minds of many Albertans as they head to the polls for municipal elections: what is a Senate election?

A Senate election is when voters select candidates for the provincial government to pass along to the federal government should Senate vacancies ever need to be filled.

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It’s important to note that these are only recommendations.

“It doesn’t change the Senate appointment process in Canada,” says Election Alberta’s Pamela Renwick. “The Governor General appoints senators based on the recommendation of the prime minister.”

There is currently one vacant Senate seat in Alberta. There will be another when Sen. Doug Black steps down at the end of October.

Since the decision on Senate appointments is ultimately up to someone else, some voters at advance polling stations in Calgary are questioning why they are weighing in.

“I’m having trouble understanding why you’d vote for something that doesn’t really carry any weight anywhere,” Ray Antony said.

“I think it’s more of a knee-jerk reaction from the current government against the federal government, and the choices may not be listened to,” John Atto said.

This is the fifth Senate election in Alberta, and when voters go to make their municipal selections, they will pick up to three Senate candidates out of the 13 who are running.

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Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt says one of the issues is that there is a lack of political variety.

“The only affiliations are the Conservative Party of Canada and the People’s Party of Canada. Everybody else is an Independent.”

Bratt say that Alberta also has a history of making a mockery out of Senate elections, and over the years, there have been thousands of spoiled ballots.

“They’ll write in Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse. Some are even advocating right now for Jason Kenney in the hopes that Trudeau will appointment him to the Senate.”

While the vote may be causing some confusion, Bratt says he sees it as a no-lose situation for Kenney.

“Either Trudeau appoints these elected senators, in which he can say say, ‘We forced the prime minister to do what we want,’ or he doesn’t, in which case, ‘He has disrespected the will of the Alberta people.’”

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