CALGARY – The Wildrose party has chosen Calgary Fish-Creek MLA Heather Forsyth as its interim leader until a leadership contest is held sometime next year.
Forsyth is a former solicitor general who crossed the floor to the Wildrose from the PCs in 2010. She announced last month she will not be seeking re-election.
Forsyth said Monday the Wildrose is committed to rebuilding the party while focusing on providing ‘a principled, fiscally conservative and a dedicated opposition’.
“We want to send a clear message to Albertans right across the province: we are here to fight for Alberta, we are here to earn your trust, and never before has Alberta been more in need of the values and principles the Wildrose stands for.”
“Our priority as a party is to stay strong,” said Forsyth. “We have lots of important decisions to be made, and we’re going to ‘give her'”.
Only five Wildrose MLAs remain after last week’s bombshell defection of former leader Danielle Smith and eight other Wildrose MLAs. All crossed the floor to join the governing Progressive Conservatives in one of the biggest political defections in Canadian history.
Forsyth spoke of the sense of betrayal she and party supporters felt when the defection was announced.
“In the pursuit of power, democracy has been swept aside,” she said.
“There is no doubt an overwhelming number of Albertans feel hurt.”
“If you said a week ago that this was what was going to happen I would have asked you: ‘what have you been drinking?”
The move was pitched as a reunification of Alberta’s right with the defectors saying they are ideologically sympatico with Premier Jim Prentice.
Under party rules, a leadership vote must be held between three and nine months after the position becomes open. The party said it will announce details of a vote on January 2nd.
Not only does the party have to chose a new leader, its future as the official Opposition is in doubt. The Liberals also have five MLAs and party leader Raj Sherman has already asked Speaker Gene Zwozdesky to grant his party official Opposition status. Zwozdesky is expected to announce his decision on Tuesday.
With files from Canadian Press