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Wildrosers continue to point fingers at Danielle Smith for floor cross

EDMONTON – More than a month after Danielle Smith gutted Alberta’s official Opposition by leading a mass floor-crossing, confusion remains over who thought up the idea.

Smith told a luncheon crowd in Okotoks that her key lieutenants, Rob Anderson and Shayne Saskiw, approached her with the idea in December. Smith says she told the pair to initiate discussions with Premier Jim Prentice and his Progressive Conservatives.

READ MORE: Alberta Wildrose leader and 5 MLAs vote to join PCs 

Saskiw, however, did not cross the floor with Smith and eight other Wildrose MLAs in December. Saskiw later said it was Smith’s idea to approach the Tories and he reluctantly went along with it, but later dropped out because his heart wasn’t in it.

Smith said Wednesday her attempt to re-unify Conservatives  “didn’t go as we expected; didn’t go as well I’d hoped.”

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Smith is seeking the PC nomination for Highwood, while Saskiw hasn’t said if he’ll run for the Wildrose in the next election.

“Hopefully I will be able to earn the trust of members to be able to represent them in the next election,” said Smith.

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Smith may have an uphill climb ahead: She said she started a new Twitter account because angry voters posted swear words on her old profile.

Smith was using political strategist Randy Dawson of Navigator communications company, which has long-time connections to Prentice. But Dawson said his help was unofficial, not connected to the company, and has since ended.

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WATCH: Danielle Smith on two MLAs crossing the floor

Smith also told the Okotoks lunch crowd that life inside the government tent has been more rewarding than “setting your hair on fire” in opposition.

“You can light your hair on fire and do a press release. You can light your hair on fire and do a press conference. You can light your hair on fire and ask a question in question period. In government, it’s a little bit different. You can write a briefing note and have a meeting with the premier or the minister to talk through the different issues.”

Smith said as the opposition leader she had to loudly push the government to fix problems whereas now she can quietly pull issues along behind the scenes.

Kerry Towle, who left the Wildrose party for the PCs before the group of her colleagues did, said she plans to seek re-election in her riding of Innisfail-Sylvan Lake under the Tory banner.

Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood is challenging her for the seat.

The Tory nomination vote will take place February 28th in Penhold.

With files from Global News reporter Gary Bobrovitz

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