Above: Raw video of Len Webber’s full news conference
CALGARY – A Tory MLA from Calgary says he is leaving the caucus because he cannot work with Premier Alison Redford.
Calgary-Foothills representative Len Webber announced on Thursday that he has crossed the floor to sit as an Independent.
“It has been a very difficult decision for me to make,” said Webber. “But it has been long overdue.”
Webber, who had previously announced plans to run for the new federal riding of Calgary Confederation, blamed his departure on Premier Alison Redford.
“She is really not a nice lady,” said Webber.
“I cannot work for an individual who treats people poorly, who treats our tax-payer dollars poorly.”
Redford has been facing public criticism in the past few weeks over extravagant travel expenses, such as a $45,000 trip to Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral.
On Wednesday, she announced she had repaid the money.
Webber said it was during Redford’s Wednesday news conference that he made his decision to cross the floor.
“I guess what threw me off really was the announcement yesterday about her paying back her $45,000 – making it sound like it wasn’t her fault,” explained Webber. “It wasn’t sincere. It was something that was forced, and she should have paid it back right away and she never did.”
“I hope other MLAs will follow me, because they experience the abuse as well,” said Webber. “Many of them are frustrated, but of course, the way this leadership is run is through intimidation and bullying.”
“People basically are, I believe, afraid to speak up and talk… and I can’t do that any longer,” he added.
When asked what kind of bullying he had endured, Webber said the premier had treated him with disrespect, and he has witnessed her in fits of rage and throwing temper tantrums.
“For me to leave the party right now, I feel sad. I feel sad at what our premier has done to this party, to this province basically,” adds Webber.
Watch below: Tom Vernon reports on Webber’s decision to leave the PC caucus
Reaction to Webber’s decision to leave
Reaction to Webber’s decision from his colleges has been mixed.
“He’s a sad man,” said Deputy Premier Dave Hancock.
“He could not take the fact that in this business there are ups and there are downs, and sometimes you’re in and sometimes you’re not,” referencing Webber no longer being in cabinet.
Hancock said while debates often get heated, he has never witnessed abusive behaviour or bullying.
“We are all very strong personalities, but that’s what you need in order to get elected and in order to be in this business.”
“I can tell you right now I’m disappointed,” says Sandra Jansen, PC MLA, Calgary-North West. “I’m disappointed right now because I had a conversation with Len a year ago and I knew that he didn’t have full faith, and he told me that if his organ donor registry bill went through, his faith would be restored. That went through pretty quickly, and now we’ve seen the development over the last day.”
Meanwhile, Diana McQueen seems to support his choice.
“I think MLA Weber has made decisions for himself and that’s appropriate for him,” said the PC MLA for Drayton Valley-Devon. “He has to do what’s right for him.”
When asked if she still supports the premier, McQueen responded “absolutely.”
“The Premier is a very strong Premier,” said Hancock. “She’s got strong leadership qualities, and she has a strong Caucus.”
“I’m not anticipating any will leave our Caucus. If anybody decides they want to, that’s their decision, but I’m not anticipating any.”
Premier Alison Redford has said she has “no reaction” to Webber’s bold announcement.
Watch Below: Laurel Gregory reports on Albertans’ thoughts on Redford’s recent actions