Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ex-Wildrose Boss Danielle Smith Faces Competition to Be Tory Candidate

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ex-Wildrose Boss Danielle Smith Faces Competition to Be Tory Candidate

Article excerpt

Ex-Wildrose leader faces nomination competition

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EDMONTON - Former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith will not get a free pass to become the Progressive Conservative candidate in her constituency.

Suzanne Oel, president of the Progressive Conservative association in Highwood, said Tuesday a number of people have expressed interest in running for the party, but she wouldn't say how many.

Oel said the only fair thing to do is continue with plans to hold a nomination vote. The board doesn't have the authority under its own laws to appoint a candidate unless no one else has expressed interest, she explained.

"Our board has decided in respect of the Highwood voters that we would hold a full and open nomination."

Smith could not be reached for comment.

Three weeks ago, she made headlines across the country when she led eight Wildrose members across the floor to join Premier Jim Prentice and the PC government.

The move left the Wildrose party with just five members as the official Opposition and raised questions about the party's long-term viability.

There are now 72 PC members in the 87-seat legislature.

Smith and the other floor-crossers have since been criticized for engendering cynicism in politics and sacrificing their public responsibilities for a seat at the government table.

Former Wildrose house leader Rob Anderson, who crossed with Smith, announced he won't run in the next election. Anderson, in a Facebook post, said it's time to focus on work in the private sector and spend more time with his family.

"It's time to focus on the next chapter of my life, primarily on them," he wrote.

Anderson said he informed Prentice before Christmas that he would not be running again. That was a week or so after he crossed the floor.

Prentice, in a statement Tuesday, said: "As a father, I understand Rob's decision and thank him for his commitment to public service. …

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