Watch: Wildrose president Jeff Callaway says he is optimistic about the party going forward.
Last week’s jaw-dropping move in Edmonton shook politics everywhere in this country.
Former Opposition Leader Danielle Smith led eight of her fellow Wildrose members into enemy lines and they surrendered. In return, she gets to be part of the government that apparently she once despised.
“It’s a bit of a shock for all of our members in the party but, frankly, the resolves that has risen from this has been quite overwhelming,” Wildrose president Jeff Callaway, who helped draft Smith to the party, said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark.
“There was no inkling. There was no indication.”
Three weeks ago, Wildrose MLAs Kerry Towle and Ian Donovan crossed the floor to join the Progressive Conservatives. At the time, Smith said she was confident no others from her party would do the same.
When the mass floor-crossing was officially announced, Smith said she’d made the decision to join the Jim Prentice-led Progressive Conservatives because she didn’t want to take him down. Conversely, she said, she wants the new premier to succeed.
In spite of the blow, and now being a leaderless party, Callaway said the party remains strong, the base invigorated and coffers full.
“We’re still the official Opposition here in Alberta, albeit with a reduced caucus. But you know what? We’ve been lower before,” he said. “I think it can be properly characterized that we are the tail that wags the government dog here in Alberta and we’re going to continue to do that.”
Commenting on Callaway’s interview, Global News’ Vassy Kapelos was more skeptical.
WATCH: Vassy Kapelos says Wildrose MLAs were promised more than they received after crossing the floor to join the Progressive Conservatives.
“They were able to raise a lot of money and do all they did when they had Danielle Smith as leader,” she said. “Make no mistake, what she did was political opportunism but without her helming the party, I don’t know what the future looks like for them.”