Alberta Votes

Vote Compass: Floor-crossers should face immediate byelections, say Albertans

More than 80 per cent of Albertans think elected politicians in Alberta who switch parties should face the voters in an immediate byelection, according to the CBC Vote Compass.

PC party supporters less likely to want immediate vote if MLAs defect

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice and former Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith speak to media in December after she led eight fellow MLAs across the floor to the Progressive Conservatives. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

More than 80 per cent of Albertans think elected politicians in Alberta who switch parties should face the voters in an immediate byelection, according to CBC Vote Compass. 

Overall responses:

However, support for the measure was slightly weaker among those who identify as supporters of the Progressive Conservatives, with 47 per cent strongly agreeing floor-crossers should resign and seek re-election.

Response by party affiliation:

Melanee Thomas, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary, says the results are not surprising, given the unprecedented defection by former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and eight fellow MLAs to the governing Progressive Conservatives last December. 

Thomas says voters may see floor-crossings as a betrayal of their voting intentions. 

"This is where you see some emotion coming into politics. People say, 'Hey, wait a minute, this isn't what we thought we were getting when we voted.'"

However, Thomas adds that switching party allegiance is an accepted, if uncommon, part of the parliamentary tradition.

"We don't elect parties, we elect individuals to represent a particular, geographically-bounded area. So when they cross the floor this doesn't change. Where I think we see the public discontent is from confusion about the system," she said.

Susan Elliott, an independent political consultant in Calgary and former PC campaign manager in 2012, says voters in Alberta are likely weighing both the party and the individual when they cast their votes.

She also says that, given recent events, it's not surprising that Wildrose supporters would be less favourable to floor-crossers. However, at 47 per cent, she says Vote Compass also demonstrate discomfort with the idea among PC supporters.

"I think there are lots of PCs who felt some trepidation at welcoming these people that they fought so hard against as recently as three years ago, " she said.

Both Elliott and Thomas say the issue of floor-crossing, though high-profile, has likely already been factored into voting intentions by the Alberta electorate.

Campaign donations: Restrictions for individuals?

Vote Compass users also weighed in on the issue of campaign donations, with 61 per cent of respondents agreeing that donations should be restricted to individuals. 

Broken down by party affiliation, Green Party supporters were most likely to favour limiting donations to individuals, while PC supporters were least likely to agree with such a limit on the nature of campaign donations,

Note from Vox Pop Labs on the methodology:

Developed by a team of social and statistical scientists from Vox Pop Labs, Vote Compass is a civic engagement application offered in Canada exclusively by CBC News.

The findings are based on 26,763 respondents who participated in Vote Compass from April 7-19, 2015.

Unlike online opinion polls, respondents to Vote Compass are not pre-selected. Similar to opinion polls, however, the data are a non-random sample from the population and have been weighted in order to approximate a representative sample.

Vote Compass data have been weighted by geography, gender, age, educational attainment, occupation, religion, religiosity and civic engagement to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada, according to census data and other population estimates.


  • A total of 82 per cent of respondents agree that floor-crossers should face a byelection, with 62 per cent agreeing strongly and another 20 per cent agreeing somewhat with the statement.
    Apr 20, 2015 3:28 PM MT


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