Ever since Stelmach was elected instead of the choice of the urban and oil kingmakers there have been rumblings and grumblings particularly when Stelmach actually tried to get a bit more from the oil companies in royalties. Certainly his health policies have not been helpful to his cause but one wonders if his opponents are just using this as a means to build support for themselves. I always thought that the Wildrose Party was a right wing populist group but if ten Conservatives MLAs joined it could turn into an alternative Big Oil weapon against Stelmach! Hinman is certainly correct to be a bit worried about the gift of ten former Conservatives MLA's!
Unrest reported in Tory ranks
By KERRY DIOTTE, LEGISLATURE BUREAU CHIEF
Wildrose Alliance Party Leader Paul Hinman's not sure if it's catch-a-Tory time or whether they're chicken.
Hinman says he's taking a wait-and-see attitude toward reports up to 10 provincial Tory MLAs are set to cross the floor to his party if the Wild-rose Alliance picks Danielle Smith as leader Oct. 17 in Edmonton.
The would-be defections are predicted in Alberta Scan, an inside-Alberta-politics newsletter put out by veteran journalist Paul McLoughlin who is based at the legislature.
In his Sept. 25 newsletter, McLoughlin wrote: "Credible Conservative sources say if Smith, a former Calgary broadcaster, wins the leadership ... as many as 10 MLAs elected as Conservatives are contemplating departing government benches in the legislature to sit as Wildrose MLAs."
Hinman said he's heard there's great unrest among Tories with both the party's direction and with Premier Ed Stelmach, but he believes some MLAs may be threatening to cross the floor simply to get their way on some issues and policies.
"They're getting lambasted here in Calgary and elsewhere on health-care changes, and Bill 50 and many things ... Stelmach undermines one section of the province after another with his poor policies," said Hinman, who scored an upset victory in the Sept. 14 byelection in Calgary-Glenmore -- a riding that had been held by the Tory's deputy premier.
Hinman himself has heard several Tory MLAs are upset about health-care cuts, energy royalties, the $6.9-billion deficit and with a strong message they've been given about speaking out against either the leader or government policy.
But he figures the disgruntled Tories will likely wait to see what happens Nov. 7 when Stelmach faces a secret ballot vote on his party leadership at the PC convention.
Even if several Tories wanted to jump ship to the Wildrose Alliance they wouldn't automatically be accepted, said Hinman, who announced in April he was stepping down as leader of his party.
"It would depend who they are and what their principles are," he said. "If they're mad and just running away, no ... we want good people."
Premier's office spokesman Paul Stanway doesn't buy the defection theory.
"Somebody is dreaming in Technicolor," said Stanway. "I guess you could call it a 'wild' rumour."
Calgary chiropractor Mark Dyrholm is running against Smith for the party leadership.