Cabinet minister has ‘open mind’ to Wildrose floor crossings

WATCH ABOVE: Tom Vernon reports live on the Morning News about the possibility of six Wildrose MLA’s crossing the floor to the Progressive Conservatives.

EDMONTON – Alberta Premier Jim Prentice’s caucus is discussing a bid by as many as six official opposition members to cross the floor — and at least one cabinet minister says he’s keeping an “open mind.”

“I’m prepared to put my best foot forward. I’m prepared to leave past grievances in the past,” Justice Minister Jonathan Denis said on his way into Government House for a meeting about the possible Wildrose defections.

Denis said he told Wildrose house leader Rob Anderson, who is also justice critic, the same thing when he spoke to him Wednesday morning. The two have often traded barbs in the legislature.

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“I think the PC party has always been a common sense, conservative, centre-right party, and I think that’s where most Albertans are,” Denis said. He wouldn’t talk about whether he’s concerned he might lose his cabinet post.

“These decisions are up to the premier and the caucus.”

Sources have told Global News that six elected members of the Wildrose want to join Prentice’s Tory government.

They include:

  • Wildrose leader Danielle Smith
  • Rob Anderson, MLA for Airdrie
  • Jeff Wilson, MLA for Calgary-Shaw
  • Gary Bikman, MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner
  • Jason Hale, MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, and
  • Blake Pedersen, MLA for Medicine Hat

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 69 seats in the 87-seat legislature. If six Wildrose members did cross, the party would still be the official opposition, as the Liberals have five members and the NDP has four. Former Wildroser Joe Anglin is sitting as an Independent.

Jeff Callaway, a member of the Wildrose party executive, said regardless of what happens, the party will live on. He said 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.

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

WATCH: Political analyst Bob Murray sits down on the Morning News to share his thoughts on what the floor crossings mean for Alberta. 

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.”

WATCH: NDP leader Rachel Notley shares her thoughts on the Morning News. 

Wildrose Reunification Agreement:

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With files from The Canadian Press