Calgary

Rob Anderson stirs the unite-the-right pot

Rob Anderson knows a thing or two about both of Alberta's right-wing parties after crossing the floor twice, first from the PCs to the Wildrose, and then back again.

Former PC and Wildrose MLA thinks Calgary-Foothills demonstrated need for merger

Rob Anderson says the recent Calgary-Foothills byelection shows the need for a single right-wing party in Alberta. (CBC)

Rob Anderson knows a thing or two about both of Alberta's right-wing parties after crossing the floor twice, first from the PCs to the Wildrose, and then back again.

He's now enjoying a life out of the spotlight with an Airdrie law practice and more time with his family, but he can't seem to keep out of the fray. 

In a post on his Recovering Politician blog over the weekend, Anderson once again stirred the right-wing merger pot, saying the Calgary-Foothills byelection drove home the need for a united right. 

"The media is blindly parroting the simplistic message that the Wildrose victory in the recent by-election in Calgary-Foothills is a repudiation of Ms. Notley's NDP, and Wildrose partisans claim this is evidence as to why there is no need for the victors to consider a long term relationship with their down-on-their-collective-luck PC cousins," he wrote. 

"That assessment is wrong headed. The by-election results are the clearest indication yet of the problem Alberta conservatives are facing."

Changing demographics

His argument is that a staunchly conservative riding just barely elected a right-wing candidate thanks to a split in the vote.

When reached by phone, he admits there were serious mistakes — chief among them a lack of transparency — made when he and eight other Wildrose MLAs crossed the floor to join the PCs, but says that shouldn't affect the discussion.

"I think that Alberta has changed a lot and I don't think that the demographics and political viewpoints of the province are such anymore that having two mainstream conservative parties in the province is viable anymore," he said.

He's hoping that the two parties can come together and the Wildrose, which has the "upper hand" at the moment, would "handle that position better than the Prentice PCs did." He thinks if they can take the high road, that the new party will reflect more of the Wildrose position.

Not that there's much difference between the parties these days, he says.

"Now, Brian Jean, he comes across to me as a centre-right guy. I don't see him as being extreme. I would kind of put him in a kind of Stephen Harper-type category with regards to his politics and policies. And Ric McIver, I would almost say he's more conservative than Brian Jean. So, certainly they're about the same."

Backlash

He's taking the inevitable backlash to his post in stride, attacking one local journalist for being an amateur facing a slow-news day for his opinion piece, relishing his newfound freedom from the responsibilities of electoral politics.

"I enjoy being able to say what I want. It's like anything else, when you're in office you have to, for example, really suck up to certain people in the media and so forth, and now I can call a spade a spade," he said. 

He thinks the biggest barrier to a merger are the political operatives, "the Navigators of the world," he says, in reference to the strategy and communications firm favoured by the PCs.

"Because they think that if they allow any kind of merger to take place, that their job might be at stake, because all of a sudden you've got half the jobs."

The latest

He's just the latest to call for a merger after the NDP wrestled power from the PC dynasty in May, and joins Danielle Smith and Jonathan Denis in the former-MLAs-call-for-merger camp.

The idea of a united right has mixed reaction over social media.

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