There was a significant shift in Alberta’s political landscape on Wednesday as nine Wildrose MLAs crossed the floor to join Jim Prentice and the PC party.

Prentice met with his caucus on Wednesday to discuss a bid by several official Opposition members to cross the floor.

The Premier and Danielle Smith announced that nine MLAs would be making the transition and together they would be unifying Alberta's conservatives.

“Throughout my public and political life, I have always believed conservatives should be united in bringing our common principles and combined energy to public service. Today, we once again represent the full diversity of voices and regions from across Alberta  north, south, urban and rural,” said Premier Jim Prentice.  “We will continue to be a broad tent conservative party that embraces progressive voters. I mean it’s clear in my own personal record and it’s clearly something that our caucus feels strongly about and I think something that the people who have joined us feel strongly about."

Smith resigned as Wildrose Leader and says she believes they can work together to lead the province.

“When I became Wildrose leader more than five years ago, I did so with one singular objective in mind: to return to government the conservative values and principles that I had spent my life defending. Under Premier Prentice’s strong leadership, I believe we can work together to lead Alberta with a renewed focus on the values and principles that we share,” Smith said.

Smith says the premier serves the same conservative values and she is looking forward to working with him.

“If you look at our statement of principles, our aligned values, it’s very clear that the lion’s share of Wildrose policy is contained in those shared values. I’m asking Wildrose members to come with us, that this is a time, especially in this era of global economic uncertainty, where we need conservatives to stand together to be able to make the hard choices that we know are going to need to be made over the next number of months,” said Smith.

The nine new PC caucus members are:

  • Danielle Smith (Highwood)
  • Rob Anderson (Airdrie)
  • Gary Bikman (Cardston-Taber-Warner)
  • Rod Fox (Lacombe-Ponoka)
  • Jason Hale (Strathmore-Brooks)
  • Bruce McAllister (Chestermere-Rocky View)
  • Blake Pedersen (Medicine Hat)
  • Bruce Rowe (Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills)
  • Jeff Wilson (Calgary-Shaw)

The caucuses have agreed to a set of aligned values including:

  • Respecting property rights
  • Strengthening local decision-making in health care
  • Committing to sound conservative fiscal principles

On the streets of downtown High River some people were disappointed to learn that their MLA would be changing parties.

“I personally think they shouldn't be allowed to until before the next election because the people have voted for them according to a certain party, and I think they have an obligation to uphold their commitment there and I don’t think they are,” said Sharon Stevenson.

“I think it's pretty sad,” said Roger Fontana. “She ran as a Wildrose and she was the leader of Wildrose party and to walk across the floor just seems to me like not the right thing to do.”

Duane Bratt is Chair and Professor in the Department of Policy Studies at Mount Royal University and says he thinks Smith is leaving to become a cabinet minister.

“I think she believes that they simply can’t beat Jim Prentice, that he is unbeatable. I think others believe that Jim Prentice is one of them and he’s implemented many Wildrose policies but I think it’s really about a desire for power and a realization that they just can’t beat Jim Prentice he’s too good,” said Bratt. “I think it's a mistake, I think the timing of this was poor, I think they're taking a short term hit and not thinking longer term. If we’ve known anything about Alberta politics over the last year it's how quickly things have changed or can change and to say well we lost a byelection six weeks ago and this has happened and that has happened so we're just going to fold our tent and go home, I think it shows some real weakness.“

He says Smith can’t make the change without appearing to be an opportunist.

“She can't. I mean they’re going to try to make the claim that Prentice is really Wildrose and it's the Wildrose that has taken over the PC Party and that in a time of fiscal crisis we need a unity government and I think that's all a crock. I think they’re going because they believe they can’t beat Prentice and they want an opportunity together,” he said.

The province says a transition team will be put in place to help the new members to integrate into the PC caucus.

Danielle Smith's resignation letter...