WATCH ABOVE: Former Wildrose leader exiting public life after losing Tory nomination battle. Vassy Kapelos reports.
OTTAWA — She came within inches of forming government in Alberta, then crossed the floor where she had to battle for her seat, but in the end lost it all. Now, former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith is leaving public life.
Asked Sunday afternoon via text message whether she had a few minutes to talk about Saturday night’s shocking upset, Smith responded, “No. I am leaving public life.”
A follow up message asked whether that ruled out any future runs for public office.
“P#ss off,” Smith responded.
She later apologized, saying her response was inappropriate and that she wasn’t ready to speak to the media.
Despite losing the PC nomination, Smith remains MLA for Calgary’s Highwood riding until she either resigns or an election is called.
Smith found herself in a tough race to win the PC nomination for her riding after crossing the floor from the Wildrose Party last year. Several senior cabinet ministers campaigned on Smith’s behalf over the weekend in High River, fuelling speculation Alberta Premier Jim Prentice would simply appoint her as the candidate.
After 972 ballots were cast on Saturday, however, Okotoks councillor Carrie Fischer won the Highwood PC nomination.
Following her defeat, Smith said she didn’t regret crossing the floor, adding she looked forward to “seeing Carrie be successful,” urging all conservatives to “unite under Jim Prentice’s leadership.
Smith had many supporters in her riding before she crossed over to the Tories, but it remained unclear whether their support would carry over after what some felt was a betrayal.
Smith shattered her caucus in December when she led an en masse floor crossing, saying she no longer had the fire in the belly to oppose the premier.
Smith and eight of her Wildrose party colleagues were accepted into Prentice’s Progressive Conservative caucus, leaving behind a five-member rump while elevating the Tory majority to an overwhelming 72 seats in the 87-seat legislature.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was first published on Sunday, March 29 at 2:45 p.m. EST. It was later updated to include Danielle Smith’s apology.