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'Taking back' constituency associations: UCP MLA says he's excited to work with overhauled board

Alberta's minister of transportation Devin Dreeshen Alberta's minister of transportation Devin Dreeshen
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Despite two family members being voted off of his riding's board, the MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake says he's looking forward to working with his new-look constituency association. 

Alberta's minister of transportation Devin Dreeshen was asked about the massive changes during a press conference Friday. 

The vote made headlines in late February after an extended battle in the riding appears to have tipped the group in a more politically right-leaning direction. It's believed the newly-elected board -- 27 directors and one president -- is largely comprised of members of the group Take Back Alberta. 

Dreeshen's mother and uncle both lost their positions in the vote. 

"I'm excited to work with them," Dreeshen told CTV News. "They view the same views as I have when it comes to the NDP."

'TAKING' ANOTHER BOARD 

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake looks to be the second UCP-led constituency board taken over by Take Back Alberta (TBA). 

The Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre riding also saw major turnover in January. 

When asked about TBA Friday, Dreeshen didn't deny that its members now make up the majority of his new board. 

"There's a lot of them across the province," he said. "To me, politics is all about people, and people that want to get engaged at any level just makes our democracy stronger."

Take Back Alberta's ability to organize and fundraise has been very apparent since its creation last year. 

Nine of the 16 UCP Board candidates it endorsed were elected, which means TBA holds some sway within the party. 

Devin Dreeshen (Photo: Twitter@DevinDVote)

Regardless, last week, that's something leader David Parker denied. 

"There's lots of claims and rumours running around, but there's not actually any direct connection with the government," he said. "We just encourage people to get involved."

The conservative group is expected to put forth its own right-leaning candidates in Alberta's next election, with some speculating they'll push for more privately-delivered health care and education. 

Parker wouldn't specify when asked before a Calgary meeting. 

CTV News reached out to both the constituency association and TBA on Friday for comment. We didn't receive an answer.

PLANS TBA 

Take Back Alberta is a registered third-party advertiser and bills itself as a way to get people involved in democracy. 

Right-wing activist Parker is the executive director and began the group as a way to push back against COVID-19 measures. 

It has since drastically grown, recently taking credit for removing Jason Kenney from his post as premier and electing Danielle Smith. 

Members have ties to the Coutts border blockade and the Ottawa convoy. 

It's unknown exactly how many followers it has, but it could be as high as tens of thousands: the majority believed to be rural.  

Its financials -- which can't be used to advertise but can indirectly help right-leaning campaigns -- are also unknown.

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