MP plugs Alberta politician during funding speech

An MP peppered a speech in Calgary announcing funding for affordable housing with plugs for his favourite candidate for leadership of Alberta's governing party.

An MP peppered a speech in Calgary announcing funding for affordable housing, with plugs for his favourite candidate for leadership of Alberta's governing party.

Calgary West MP Rob Anders hosted a news conference in his hometown on Thursday to announce $90 million in funding  for a housing initiative.

As he took the podium he put on a Morton campaign button.

"I am going play an interesting game here today. I am going to deliver the speech and in the odd place where the bureaucrats have inserted something I am not entirely comfortable saying I am going to put in my own phrase and you see if you can figure out what it is," he said.

Rob Anders puts on a Ted Morton button during a funding announcement in Calgary. (CBC)
During his three minute speech, Anders mentioned his support for candidate Ted Morton nine times.

"The government of Canada is funding the support of social housing units. I'm supporting Morton," he said in one instance.

Anders told the audience he was at the event on behalf of Human Resource Minister Diane Finley.

A spokeswoman for Finley said in a written statement on Friday that "the minister's position on this matter is that provincial leadership race politics should not be raised during announcements made on behalf of the government of Canada."

Morton is one of six candidates vying to become leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party, replacing Premier Ed Stelmach.

Concerned about Alberta 'civil war'

CBC News obtained a copy of the original speech and Anders removed several phrases including: "this is great news for those in need," "our government understands that having a safe and affordable place to call home is important to Canadian families and their communities," and "it takes partnerships at all levels of government to get real results."

Anders said Alberta Housing Minister Jonathan Denis, who was at the press conference, was also going to wear a Morton campaign button, but decided against it.

"Jonathan and I talked about it last night. He was going to wear his button too," said Anders. "He chose to listen to the sergeant at arms here who said not to wear a button, so fair enough."

Asked  if a federal funding announcement was the appropriate place for partisan provincial politics, Anders hinted at Morton's ability to unite voters swaying between the Alberta's Tories and the up-and-coming Wildrose Alliance party.

"I think if we're going to avoid a civil war in the province of Alberta over the next election, it's important to have a candidate that can appeal to the Wildrose Alliance supporters and I think Ted Morton is that candidate."

Ottawa Conservative strategist Tim Powers says Anders has always done what he wants and this latest speech is no different.

"Would you give Rob Anders an A plus for judgment? Probably not. He’d probably score a D. He is not alone in that. So I think criticism is fully entitled. At the end of the day, Rob Anders is suffering from Rob Anders making his own statement. The person who wears this is the person who made it," said Powers.

Also running for leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party are Alison Redford, Gary Mar, Rick Orman, Doug Griffiths, and Doug Horner.