Two Wildrose MLAs bolt to Prentice’s PCs, leaving official opposition reeling

 By , QMI Agency

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On Monday, the Wildrose bled. They could well bleed some more.

Kerry Towle and Ian Donovan are two Wildrose members of the legislature from the countryside where the opposition party draws its greatest strength.

On Monday, they take the walk to Premier Jim Prentice’s Progressive Conservatives.

The defection of Towle really hurts. She was close to Wildrose leader Danielle Smith. Now she is close to Smith as Brutus was once close to Caesar.

The Wildrose leader takes to the podium Monday afternoon with a quick statement to the salivating newshounds and no questions from them.

Smith doesn’t speak the word traitor or turncoat or Judas or a hundred other nasties.

She lets us connect the easy-to-see dots in her mind.

Smith contrasts Towle and Donovan with Wildrose MLAs Rob Anderson and Heather Forsyth.

Smith must be thinking: Oh, what a day it was, almost five years ago, right after the Christmas holidays.

Smith, Anderson and Forsyth. A trio of wide smiles.

Anderson and Forsyth left the ruling PCs. They defected from the government to Wildrose, a party with only one seat in the legislature.

The party had just won a byelection in a squeaker because people were vein-popping angry at the sitting premier, Ed Stelmach.

Your columnist can still recall Smith applauding the courage of Anderson and Forsyth back in January of 2010. There was so much hope in the small room.

On Monday, Smith is wanting to sound tough. The last month she has been in free fall.

She tells us says Anderson and Forsyth “gave up the perks for power” and did so “not for personal gain.”

Smith says Towle and Donovan did the opposite. Ouch. The Wildrose leader says Towle and Donovan will have to answer for their actions at home and in the legislature. Oh my.

On the other side of the legislature, Jim Prentice and the PCs are happier than sailors on shore leave.

Unsteady Eddie and Entitled Alison are two PC premiers relegated to the history books by many Albertans.

Plenty of people are giving Prentice and the PCs a chance, including some who until recently hailed the Wildrose as the government-in-waiting.

That group now includes two former Wildrose MLAs.

Smith and Wildrose?

They lost four byelections last month when they should have won at least one.

With the defeat Smith staggered a spacewalk, first wanting a review of her leadership by party members, a vote that wasn’t even possible according to her party’s rules.

Smith rambled about Wildrose MLA Marine Joe Anglin’s alleged taping of closed-door gabfests of Wildrose politicians but offered no proof he was doing any recording.

Anglin now sits as an independent in the legislature.

The Wildrose convention did not rouse the faithful and show a way forward. Smith’s speech was lame and meandering and blamed the media for party woes while talking about such things as Fun Police. Don’t ask.

At the hootenanny in Red Deer, party members recognized all Albertans have equal rights but then stopped short of naming where individuals needed protection against discrimination, for example, race, gender and sexual orientation.

After the vote, one Wildrose MLA walked away, muttering about the stupidity of the naysaying party members. He wasn’t alone.

On Monday, as two of their colleagues go out the door to Destination Toryland, Wildrose MLAs declare their support for what their party rejected.

Those who defected, explain why they vamoosed.

Towle says people in her central Alberta riding asked her to think about joining the PCs because she could do more with them than against them.

“I didn’t wake up and say: Well, you know, I had the wrong grilled cheese sandwich, I’m going to leave Wildrose. I feel strongly, in order for us to move forward, conservatives as a whole need to come together.”

Donovan’s songsheet isn’t a whole lot different.

Donovan says the people he represents want him back on the inside.

He also speaks of Smith’s pledge. If Wildrose loses the next election, she’s gone.

“It’s hard to follow somebody when they say they’re not sure they’re going to lead the team if they don’t win the next game,” says Donovan.

To quote an old saying, Smith dances with the one who brung her.

“Changing one person at the top does not change the government’s recurring problems of entitlement and mismanagement,” says the Wildrose leader.

“The premiers change, the problems remain. They always do. We will fight for what we know in our hearts is good for Alberta and good for Albertans.”

But is this a rallying cry or is it a swan song?

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