CALGARY- In an extraordinary turnaround from last week, former federal opposition leader Preston Manning says he did not give proper advice to the Wildrose party on a merger with Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives and he says, he’s sorry.
In a statement posted on the website of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, Manning writes he should have recommended the same process the Canadian Alliance followed when it merged with the federal Progressive Conservatives in 2003.
According to Manning’s statement, that process involved “discussion with grassroots members, several consultative referendums, large conferences on principles and policy, a vote on acceptance or rejection by party members.”
Manning says his failure to recommend a similar process to the Wildrose was a ‘mistake’ and a ‘disservice’ to those who sought (his) counsel.
“I now sincerely apologize to all concerned.”
Nine Wildrose MLAs crossed the floor last week, including party leader Danielle Smith. They were criticized by many Wildrose supporters for not waiting to put the move to a vote by party members.
Last week Manning said he not only advised Smith but also spoke with with all Wildrose caucus members when they met in Edmonton to discuss uniting the party with the the governing PCs.
At the time, Manning said he would have liked to have seen the Wildrose formally vote on a merger deal. That idea was rejected by the party’s executive committee.