Member of Alberta NDP Karen McPherson leaves caucus to sit as independent

Karen McPherson announced Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, that she is leaving the Alberta NDP caucus to sit as an independent. Global News / file

Calgary NDP MLA Karen McPherson announced Wednesday she’s leaving caucus to sit as an independent.

She told News Talk 770 she believes she can have a “stronger voice” for her constituents if she is not attached to a party.

“I believe, sitting as an independent, that I will be able to speak up more loudly for constituents and talk about the things that are important to them,” she said.

McPherson did not point to any specific problems with the NDP’s style of governance, but in a statement on her Facebook page, said she believes the current political climate in Alberta is “leading to further polarization.”

LISTEN: Karen McPherson explains her motivations for leaving Alberta’s NDP caucus

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Posted by Karen McPherson – MLA on Wednesday, October 4, 2017

“It’s not the government in particular; it’s the state of politics in Alberta right now – how polarized it is – and how people’s voices seem to be not being heard as loudly as I think they should be,” she told News Talk 770.

McPherson won a seat in Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill in 2015 under the NDP banner in a riding that had traditionally been considered a conservative stronghold. It includes the communities of Huntington Hills, Beddington Heights, Sandstone, MacEwan and Evanston.

Speaking at a news conference at the Alberta legislature on Wednesday morning, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said she has not spoken to McPherson about her decision to leave caucus.

“We have a fantastic caucus that will continue to work hard for Albertans going forward,” she said.

The premier’s office declined to comment further about McPherson’s departure.

McPherson said that although an election is still two years away, at this time she does plans to run for the seat again.

In her statement, MacPherson went on to mention both health care and Alberta’s sluggish economy, saying they are being “adequately managed” but they “need to be transformed.”

READ MORE: Alberta Election 2015: NDP’S Karen McPherson wins Calgary-MacKay-Nose Hill

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“Our economy is slowly recovering from a revenue collapse, leaving deficits that Albertans have deemed unacceptable and there’s no clear path to alleviating the deficit,” MacPherson said in a statement on her Facebook page, referring to the province’s efforts to get Alberta’s economy back on track.

“Things have to be evaluated with a fresh perspective.”

McPherson said she understands there will be some who are unhappy with her decision. She said she’ll be meeting with her constituents before government is back in session to get a clear understanding of what they want to see from her moving forward.

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