WATCH: Since the defections this week, some Wildrose staffers have suddenly found themselves out of work. Tom Vernon has the story.
EDMONTON – Many Wildrose staff members are in limbo after this week’s mass floor crossing.
The president of the Wildrose Party told Global News that no one from the actual party has been laid off, but the situation on the Caucus side might be different.
“I speak for the party side, which is the non-legislative side, Caucus is a different organization than what the party is. There are no lay-offs within the Wildrose Party,” said Jeff Callaway, president of the party.
“On the Caucus side, obviously we’re working with a diminished Caucus right now. You get greater funding if you have more MLAs and I think some decisions are probably being made on that side.
“However, I cannot speak for the former Wildrose MLAs who are now PC MLAs in what they are doing with their employees and staff,” added Callaway. “I’ve heard some rumours of changes on that front as well.”
Callaway said the only person he’s heard of that has been let go is Danielle Smith’s assistant.
Friday evening, Danielle Smith’s former press secretary confirmed it was his last day on the job. In a Facebook post, Vitor Marciano praised the Wildrose as being an effective opposition and thanked individual staff members and teams for their efforts.
“Don’t get me wrong, the elected officials matter. Only they make the decisions. They are on the stage delivering the message – the really good ones can improvise significant parts of the message. They are the face the voters see. But they just can’t be effective without great staff. I think today, on my last day, is the right time to recognize these excellent Albertans and single them out by name.”
Callaway added that a recent email to Wildrose supporters has been well-received.
“We are very strong and we are continuing on and we’re quite optimistic about our prospects as a party,” added Callaway.
Part of that email reads: “The choices made by several former Wildrose caucus members to abandon their principles and cross the floor to the Prentice PC government were universally rejected by this Executive Committee. This is a capitulation. Wildrose is a completely separate party.”
The email – which you can read in its entirety below – goes on to say: “We have a fresh slate of qualified candidates, ready to fight hard in the next election. We have a strong membership base that is committed to our principles. We have the support of one in three Albertans.”
In a statement released Friday, members of the Wildrose Caucus said the Wildrose remains strong and united in providing “a principled and unwavering fiscal conservative voice for Albertans.”
“Our team of MLAs are already working with the party to lay out the plan for our members, supporters, volunteers and committed voters. We will never let you down, we will hold this government to account and we will begin the important work of achieving an even better Alberta. As MLAs, we remain fiercely committed to the Wildrose party, but more importantly, the principles and mandate that we were sent to the Legislature to fulfil.
“Over 440,000 Albertans voted to support our ideas and our people, and given the actions of the past week, our resolve has never been stronger.”
“Every day we will continue to battle for fiscal responsibility, a debt-free Alberta, accountable and efficient government, prioritized spending on front-line services, and real democratic reform. Immediately and in the days ahead, we will work harder than ever before to uphold these values and continue to earn the trust of all Albertans.”
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help support staff who are cut. It launched Thursday and, as of Friday morning, had collected more than $8,000.
“We are raising funds to help ease the sudden unemployment of WRP staff due to the floor crossing of WRP MLAs less than 10 days to Christmas,” the site reads.
On Wednesday, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and eight other MLAs left the party to join the PCs.
Earlier that day, the nine MLAs were accepted into Prentice’s Progressive Conservative caucus, leaving behind five members while elevating the Tory majority to an overwhelming 72 seats in the 87-seat legislature.
NDP and Liberal leaders accused Smith of an unprecedented betrayal of Wildrose supporters and voters along with those Albertans who rely on a strong opposition to keep a government in check.
But Smith said there was no longer any need to oppose a premier who, unlike his predecessors, agreed with what the Wildrose believed on issues such as land rights and fiscal conservatism.
Smith will be on the Global Edmonton News Hour on Friday.
Email sent to Wildrose party website subscribers:
“The choices made by several former Wildrose caucus members to abandon their principles and cross the floor to the Prentice PC government were universally rejected by this Executive Committee.
This is a capitulation. Wildrose is a completely separate party.
We are united in our commitment to provide Albertans with a credible, principled alternative on the ballot in the next election.
The Executive Committee is absolutely and unanimously supportive of the Wildrose Party, for Alberta.
We have a fresh slate of qualified candidates, ready to fight hard in the next election. We have a strong membership base that is committed to our principles. We have the support of one in three Albertans.
Wildrose will continue to fight for the rights of Albertans.
Wildrose believes in the power of Albertans, not government, to drive our success through the 21stcentury.
Wildrose will build for our future while working responsibly in the present.
Wildrose values honesty, integrity, and principle.
Wildrose believes government must be resolutely accountable to the people of Alberta.
Wildrose prioritizes patients and students, children and seniors, educators, nurses, doctors, front-line professionals; everyday Albertans like you and I.
We have been the most effective opposition this government has seen in decades, and we are not done fighting.
Make a contribution today, and let us know that you still support the movement to take back Alberta for Albertans.
Forward this email to your family and friends and let them know that you support a strong Wildrose Party.
Visit our website to purchase or renew your Wildrose membership.
We are unanimous and resolute in our commitment, and we are just getting started.
Sincerely, Wildrose Executive Committee”