Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Conservative Riding Association Cuts Ties with Alberta MP Brent Rathgeber

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Conservative Riding Association Cuts Ties with Alberta MP Brent Rathgeber

Article excerpt

Former Tory MP's riding association cuts ties

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EDMONTON - Alberta MP Brent Rathgeber became a man without a riding association Friday, little more than a day after he quit the federal Conservative caucus.

Members of Rathgeber's Edmonton-St. Albert Conservative Association voted to cut ties with the MP and said they want to take steps immediately to find a new Conservative candidate.

"The board was surprised and caught off guard by Brent's decision," association president Darren Bieganek said in an interview.

"We're disappointed with his decision to resign from caucus."

Bieganek said the association's executive members met Friday morning and reached the decision unanimously.

Rathgeber quit the Tory caucus late Wednesday night. He said government backbenchers had become "trained seals" that carry out the wishes of unelected officials in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office.

In a prepared statement issued Friday, the association disagreed.

"The (association) expresses its full support for the policies of the Conservative Party of Canada and its full support for the party's leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper," read the news release.

Bieganek said the association is asking senior Conservative party officials to get nominations going as quickly as possible so there's a candidate ready to go for the next election, or, if Rathgeber steps down earlier, for a byelection.

Members are not insisting that Rathgeber step down before a general election, Bieganek said. Part of the reason for that is voter fatigue.

"Our belief is the citizens of the riding are probably not interested in having an election right now.

"We've had three federal elections in the last six years. We had a provincial election last year and we've got a municipal election coming up in October."

Rathgeber, 48, has said he has no plans to resign his seat to force a byelection and, if he does run in the next general election, it is likely to be as an Independent. …

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