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Alberta politics: Wildrose fallout the story to watch in 2015

Fallout from the unprecedented floor crossing of Danielle Smith and eight other Wildrose MLAs will likely be the political story to watch in Alberta in 2015.

Political experts weigh in on what is in store for Alberta next year

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice and former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith speak to media after announcing that nine MLAs would be crossing the floor to join the PCs earlier this month. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Fallout from the unprecedented floor crossing of Danielle Smith and eight other Wildrose MLAs will likely be the political story to watch in Alberta in 2015, according to political experts.

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It was so unheard of that most people needed to actually see Danielle Smith shake Jim Prentice's hand to realize the rumours were true — that the opposition leader was joining the Tories.

"That's something that's going to be cited in Canadian political science textbooks in Canada for years, or possibly decades, to come," said Duane Bratt, a political science professor at Mount Royal University. 

He calls it a gamble by Smith and Prentice, but one that's paying off so far as Smith and her Wildrose MLAs are in government and Prentice has a massive majority.

But Bratt suggests there will be turmoil.

"It's like being traded to a team because the coach likes you, but everyone on the team despises you," he said.

Pollster Janet Brown sees the backlash against Smith by Wildrose supporters continuing in the new year.

"The vitriol, the kind of messages on Twitter and Facebook are beyond anything we have seen for a normal floor crossing."

Danielle Smith has received hundreds of Facebook messages since announcing she was crossing the floor to join the governing PC party. (Danielle Smith Facebook screen grab)

Both are curious to see whether any of the floor crossers will receive cabinet posts, and whether they will have to fight for the Progressive Conservative nomination in their ridings.

If so, Bratt believes could Smith could lose in her constituency of Highwood.

With files from CBC's Kyle Bakx

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