Seven members of Alberta opposition seek to join government ranks: Sources

By , on December 18, 2014


Leader of the Wildrose Party and Official Opposition in Alberta Danielle Smith (Facebook photo)
Leader of the Wildrose Party and Official Opposition in Alberta Danielle Smith (Facebook photo)

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jim Prentice’s caucus is meeting today to discuss a bid by at least half the official Opposition to cross the floor.

Sources have told The Canadian Press that seven members of Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith’s party — including Smith herself — want to join Prentice’s Tory government.

The sources also said house leader Rob Anderson is one of those expected to join in the crossover attempt.

Prentice has said caucus will have the final say on the matter.

If carried out, the move would gut the Wildrose party and give the PCs an overwhelming 70 seats in the 87-seat legislature.

With seven leaderless Wildrose members, the party would still be the official Opposition as the Liberals have only five members and the NDP four alongside Independent Joe Anglin, a former Wildroser.

Jeff Callaway, a member of the Wildrose party executive, says regardless of what happens with its elected members, the party will live on.

He says it would be profoundly disappointing for MLAs to cross to another party for the sake of their own political self-preservation.

But he says the party’s fundraising is strong and there’s a good constituency association roster, meaning the party will run a slate of candidates in the next election.

Callaway says the party still has more than 21,000 members.

A document leaked to the media outlining the conditions of any merger states that since Prentice has adopted many Wildrose fiscal accountability measures, it would make sense for the two right-of-centre parties to join.

The document also promises that floor-crossing Wildrosers would be allowed to keep their seats and would get the premier’s endorsement for a PC nomination to run in the next election, slated for the spring of 2016.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley said the document suggests the Wildrosers are less concerned with ideology and more concerned with keeping their seats.

“On both sides, it is primarily about a bunch of folks that want to keep their jobs, whether you’re talking about Tories or Wildrosers,” said Notley. “That document does not read like a guide to grassroots democracy. That reads like a guide to clinging to power.”