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Wildrose party floor-crossing fodder for leadership candidates’ debate

Wildrose leadership candidates, from left, Drew Barnes, Brian Jean and Linda Osinchuk. .
Wildrose leadership candidates, from left, Drew Barnes, Brian Jean and Linda Osinchuk. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dean Bennett

RED DEER – Last fall’s mass floor-crossing by several members of Alberta’s Wildrose party was the focal point Monday night as the three candidates vying to become the party’s next leader made their first public pitch for support.

Drew Barnes, Linda Osinchuk and Brian Jean were in Red Deer for the first in a series of debates leading up to the announcement of the new leader later this month.

READ MORE: Wildrose leadership race ramps up on weekend with candidate speeches 

All three used the event to criticize former leader Danielle Smith and 10 other Wildrose members who crossed the floor to the governing Progressive Conservatives.

Jean, a former northern Alberta Conservative member of Parliament, told the gathering that the crossing is an opportunity to affirm what Wildrose is about.

READ MORE: Alberta Tories offer free memberships to Wildrose opponents

Osinchuk says the people of Alberta need to be in charge of their future, while Barnes says the floor-crossing was Smith’s failure to keep the party united.

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The Wildrose leader will be announced March 28.