First full day for two new PC MLAs on the other side of the Chamber
Published Tuesday, November 25, 2014 6:32PM MST Last Updated Tuesday, November 25, 2014 7:08PM MST
For two Alberta MLAs, Tuesday was their first day as members of the governing Progressive Conservative Party – after they crossed the floor from the opposition Wildrose Party Monday.
Now-Progressive Conservative MLAs Kerry Towle and Ian Donovan moved their belongings from the opposition offices in the Legislature Annex, to the Legislature Tuesday.
Towle told CTV News the decision to defect to the PCs was a hard, personal choice.
“I lost a dear friend, and I understand – I have to live with that,” Towle said Tuesday.
The choices were met with judgement from other MLAs Tuesday.
“It’s the single act of personal betrayal I’ve ever seen, or ever witnessed in my 25 years of elected office,” NDP MLA Brian Mason said.
On Monday, Premier Jim Prentice made the surprise announcement that Towle and Donovan were crossing the floor to the PCs, from the official opposition Wildrose Party.
“I’m pleased and humbled by this, humbled by their support,” Prentice said Monday.
Towle said in the press conference Monday that “some of the decisions being made were taking our party in a way that was not in line with what my constituents elected me to do. I didn’t feel that I could do anything to fix that path.”
“I’m impressed with the new leadership. One of the challenges we had, was as a team player – and I respect Danielle Smith in the utmost – it’s hard to follow someone who is saying they’re not sure they’re going to lead the team of they don’t win the next game,” Donovan said.
Wildrose Leader Smith only read a statement Monday, saying the two MLAs had decided to switch to the governing party for the power, and they would “have to answer for their actions, both in their constituencies and in the legislature.”
Smith did not answer questions on the subject.
Both Towle and Donovan denied allegations they changed parties for the power – but U of A Political Scientist Ian Urquhart was not convinced.
“As far as I’m concerned, her defection and also Mr. Donovan’s is all about power,” Urquhart said. “It’s not about principle it’s not about policy, it is wanting to be on the government side of the legislature.”
Towle and Donovan are not the first Wildrose MLAs to jump ship – earlier in November, former Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin left the Wildrose Caucus to sit as an independent.
Anglin says these last two to cross the floor won’t be the last.
“I know of four that are sitting on the fence and thinking about it,” Anglin said.
For their part, the leaders of the PCs and Wildrose stayed mostly mum on the changes Tuesday – Smith did not respond to questions, and Prentice said he wasn’t concerned.
“I don’t worry about the Opposition when I get out of bed in the morning,” Prentice said Tuesday.
However, Anglin said Smith’s future as leader could be in question.
“This is a huge test for Danielle, she has to pass this test, if she doesn’t pass this test then she won’t survive,” Anglin said.
After Towle and Donovan crossed the floor, 63 seats in the Chamber are occupied by Progressive Conservative members, and there are 14 Wildrose MLAs.
With files from Serena Mah