Calgary MLA Rick Fraser leaves UCP to sit as independent

Rick Fraser announced his decision Thursday, saying he wants to focus more on his constituents and his own ideas.

Calgary-South East MLA says party politics rather than policies have dominated since Alison Redford departure

Calgary-South East MLA Rick Fraser was first elected to the legislature in 2012 as a member of the PC party. (Rick Fraser/Facebook)

A Calgary United Conservative Party MLA has opted to leave the party to sit as an independent in Alberta's legislature.

Rick Fraser, who is MLA for Calgary-South East, announced his decision Thursday, saying he wants to focus more on his constituents and his own ideas.

"I feel ever since Alison Redford stepped away, the level of the debate in the legislature and what's taken place at a party level, it's been non-stop politics," Fraser told CBC News.

"The struggle in that for me is I really believe right now in Alberta, more than ever, we need to be proactive. We also need to be very innovative about policies that are going to serve Albertans."

Fraser said since Redford's departure, there has been multiple leadership races, cabinet changes and an election. Now that the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties have merged to create the UCP, Fraser said his departure from the party will allow him to speak freely about policies, without having to toe the party line.

"To be able to speak in the legislature away from having to wait to decide what policy needs to look like and or a particular platform, being conservative or NDP or whatever it may be, I'll be able to speak as a private member about things I know my constituents are worried about," he said.

Departure announced on social media

Fraser, the former head of the Calgary paramedics union, was first elected to the legislature in 2012 as a member of the PC party. 

He announced his decision to leave the UCP Thursday in a letter on his social media pages. In his letter, he stressed the need for Alberta to foster new technology and business in all sectors of the province's economy.

"Reluctance to invest in any business stifles our future growth. If we choose to market only one part of our economy we are choosing to lose out on a more robust and resilient economy in the future," he said, adding he cares about the environment and the need to protect Alberta's natural resources, including water.

The MLA said he hasn't made any decisions as to long term political future or joining another party.