As the MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, and one of five Wildrose MLAs who refused to cross the floor in Dec. 2014 to join the Progressive Conservative Party led by Jim Prentice, once again I find myself in a situation where I am compelled to ask: “Where do we go from here?”
When I got involved in the Wildrose Party, I wanted to provide strong conservative leadership to put pressure on a PC government that had become herd bound. At the time, the PC government was chewing its cud on record-high oil prices, yet it was weighed down by a bloating bureaucracy.
Originally, Wildrose was the party of the little guy. It was led by Paul Hinman, who was replaced by Danielle Smith. In 2012 the party won 17 seats, replacing the Liberal Party as Official Opposition. Our mandate was to defend property rights, reduce bureaucracy and curb excessive government spending, all the while opposing corruption in every form.
In time we learned that just as exposing something to intense light can reveal imperfections, being too close to power can bring out character flaws in people. It isn’t that closeness to power changes people; it openly reveals a person’s underlying thinking or motives.
This closeness to power led many of my Wildrose colleagues to assume they could do anything they wanted. They further assumed that they’d never suffer an electoral defeat for doing so.
The majority of the caucus crossed the floor, joined the PC Party, and sat as PC MLAs. The result was that all of the former Wildrose caucus’s motives were soundly rebuked by the electorate.
Many argued that these floor-crossers were responsible for the election of the NDP government, and in turn, for the financial calamity the province now faces.
Have any of these floor-crossers publicly apologized to the people of Alberta for their breach of trust—for their willful defiance of propriety?
Today I look at Alberta’s fiscal landscape and see that by the time Rachel Notley must again face the electorate, the province will be nearly $70 billion in debt. I also realize that no matter who wins the next election, the debt will continue to escalate for several years simply because it is not possible to quickly turn around the finances of something as large as our provincial government.
Alberta’s debt could rise well above $100 billion before the borrowing can be stopped.
Today Alberta has many people inside two conservative political parties that are vying for a reconciliation that will remove the NDP. During the next few months, as Albertans form a new political entity, they have an important opportunity to ensure that the grassroots is heard.
Vigilant Albertans need to be active now more than ever, or as William Aberhardt said “They can suffer some more!!”
Pundits, talking heads and unelected backroom operatives need to be fully scrutinized by democracy!
Let’s start on a unified mission to a fully democratic, shrewd conservative Alberta, strong and free – something we can all rightfully be proud of!