WATCH ABOVE: With rampant speculation that a spring election is imminent, the Wildrose Party is gearing up for battle. Saturday, the top contenders for becoming leader of the party gathered in Calgary.Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.
CALGARY – With several of its MLAs, including its leader defecting to the PC party late last year, Alberta’s opposition party has been left bruised and battered.
But with rampant speculation that a spring election is imminent, the Wildrose Party is gearing up for battle.
Saturday, the top contenders for becoming leader of the party gathered in Calgary.
The interim leader of the Wildrose maintains her party is not dead. In fact, Heather Forsyth insists it’s been rejuvenated since the infamous floor crossings.
“I’ve seen a huge change over the last, I’m going to say, two to three weeks where people have gotten over the shock, gotten over the betrayal and now they are angry and they expect us to be working hard on their behalf,” Forsyth said.
At the Wilrose membership assembly in Calgary, the four leadership prospects had a chance to speak to party faithful.
“The organization is strong and the 21,000 members that are in Alberta are very excited. So reigniting the spirit and the need for a very strong Wildrose party is where I’m going to be at,” Linda Osinchuk said.
Wildrose members are now getting their ducks in row for a possible spring election.
“The fact is Jim Prentice is going to do what’s best for Jim Prentice and his party, and at the end of the day we have to be ready,” said Derek Fildebrant, who’s considering Wildrose leadership.
Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes is disappointed his party will have to scramble to find a new leader if there’s an early election call.
“I guess what I would suggest is that if this removes some of the choice for Albertans, the choices for who may run for us as a leader and for us as candidates then that’s bad for democracy in Alberta, so shame on the premier for doing this,” Barnes said.
Former conservative MP Brian Jean is considering a run for the leadership. He spoke with former leader Danielle Smith about his plans to run for Wildrose last summer.
“I had a meeting with her in August and I found that meeting to be very troubling indeed. I was not confident in her leadership and at that stage I decided that I needed to make a decision,” Jean said.
Jean’s decision was to support Prentice’s leadership campaign with a $10,000 donation. Now, he’s left explaining why he’s considering “fighting” the premier.
“Why I donated that money is because I actually thought Jim Prentice was going to be different. I thought Jim Prentice was going to actually lead the PC Party and lead Alberta out of the situation we are in. I thought it was going to clean up the PC Party, it’s the same cast of characters that have been in there forever and politely I think Albertans deserve much better.”
Nine Wildrose MLAs crossed the floor to join the Tories in December, there are five members remaining.