Chestermere - Rocky View MLA speaks out
Monday, Dec 29, 2014 10:43 am
On Dec. 17 Chestermere-Rocky View MLA Bruce McAllister along with eight other Wildrose MLAs crossed the floor to join the Progressive Conservatives (PCs). McAllister who spoke to the Rocky View Weekly on Dec. 23 said the move was the right one as Alberta moves “into some of the roughest waters” with decreasing oil prices impacting the provincial outlook.
“It’s been gut wrenching. I’ve slept very little,” McAllister said.
“At the end of the day I believe Jim Prentice is the right guy to lead this province right now.”
McAllister said he wasn’t part of the negotiation team who initiated the mass floor crossing.
“I too was shocked,” he said of when he first learned the move was being discussed.
He said he did not consult with his constituency prior to crossing the floor because the window of opportunity was quickly closing.
“There’d still be a group of individuals not wanting to see these two groups come together (if public consultation about the move had been completed),” he said.
“For me it’s about principles and not partisanship.”
“Principles” has become somewhat of a buzzword around the newly crossed PCs with many, including former Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith, stating the move was due to matching principles.
When asked what specific principles McAllister liked about the Prentice government, he said, “one of the key things for me was property rights.”
He said in Rocky View County he’s heard from many constituents who feel under past governments these rights were greatly diminished.
“Already (under Prentice) the property rights bill has been repealed,” McAllister said.
He said he is also very impressed with Prentice’s fiscal approach to balance the budget, the freezing of bureaucrat’s wages and the increased transparency in government.
“Mr. Prentice drives up and down the QE2, how refreshing is that,” he said of the move to sell the provincial planes.
“(Prentice) said to me in a one-on-one, ‘Bruce, I want entitlement out of government as much as you do,’” McAllister said, adding the last two PC leaders were “disastrous” but Prentice has passed policy which demonstrates himself to be a “common-sense conservative.”
“We are sailing into some of the roughest waters (for the Province) with the price of oil (decreasing) and I believe conservatives don’t need to be standing across the aisle screaming at each other,” he added.
The move of McAllister and the eight other former Wildrose MLAs has resulted in the Official Opposition now holding just five seats in Legislature, compared to the 72 seats the PCs now hold. The Liberal Party of Alberta holds five seats in the Legislature, the New Democratic Party of Alberta holds four seats and one MLA holds an Independent seat.
On Dec. 17 the Wildrose unanimously rejected a reunification proposal from the PCs, and encouraged by former leader Smith, and released the following statement, “the Wildrose Party remains a strong independent organization with over 22,000 members, dozens of Constituency Associations, hundreds of volunteers, and thousands of donors.”
On Dec. 22 the Wildrose announced Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Heather Forsyth as new interim leader for the Party.
“You’ll hear from a lot of people this is opportunism, that ‘these guys are benefitting from this,’” McAllister said.
“I probably stand to risk more than any other MLA (who crossed). My riding had the largest Wildrose voters. I’m counting on them to trust me. There’s not a nickel coming to me, it’s all risk.”
However, he said the move was the right one for him, for Alberta and his constituents as oil prices continue to decline.
“We need to be towing on the same rope,” he said.