Longtime Tory blasts Prentice, PC party president
Gloria Wilkinson questions principles of Tory party
Gloria Wilkinson is 73-years-old, a former deputy reeve and a former vice-chair for the senate of the University of Calgary.
She also has a long history of volunteering for the Progressive Conservative Party in Alberta, dating back to 1979. She also served as a vice-president for the provincial association.
She resigned last Saturday as a PC board member in Chestermere-Rocky View in protest over the way the party is conducting itself these days, she said in an interview with CBC on Wednesday. In fact, for the first time she can remember, she doesn't know how she will vote in this election.
"It's dreadful," Wilkinson said. "To think that a system, a constitution, a party I've trusted this long has walked away from me, that they're not being that principled at the moment, that's pretty dreadful."
"It shakes up your whole system. I have to re-evaluate."
In her first interview since stepping down from the constituency association, Wilkinson said the disqualification of Jamie Lall just days before the nomination vote was "the last straw."
Former Wildrose MLA Bruce McAllister, who crossed the floor to the Tories in December, was acclaimed as the candidate and is now campaigning in the riding.
She maintains no reasons have been given for Lall's disqualification, a sore point given that Wilkinson was the returning officer and had organized volunteers to conduct the vote, had ballots printed and had booked a venue.
"Why did somebody interfere with our nomination process? Why did they think that something else was needed? No answers."
Wilkinson said it troubled her watching the same scenario play out in a number of other races where candidates were disqualified. She describes the nominations as "a hurry up process" and is concerned the party is ignoring its own constitution.
No word from Prentice
Wilkinson doesn't believe party leader Jim Prentice is considering party members or longtime volunteers like herself. She thinks she is owed an explanation, but has not yet heard from Prentice.
"You would think someone who has worked on both his federal and his leadership campaign, that you might get a call back. Maybe that's too high of an expectation."
She also feels Prentice is not the inclusive leader she hoped he would be.
"My impression is that there are a lot of individual decisions being taken by the leader."
Officials with the Prentice campaign were invited to respond to Wilkinson's statements but have yet to do so.
Party president 'invisible,' says Wilkinson
Wilkinson also isn't impressed with PC President Terri Beaupre who was elected to the job at the party's annual general meeting last November in Banff.
Referring to Beaupre as "the invisible president," Wilkinson says through all of the nomination controversies "the president chose not to use any voice, anytime, anywhere for all of us who are general members. So where are the principles of the party?"
Beaupre did not respond to a request for comment, but PC Executive Director Kelley Charlebois sent an e-mail to CBC News saying "I know (Wilkinson) supported John Fitzsimmons for president when he and Terri ran against each other last fall." Fitzsimmons was the constituency president in Chestermere-Rocky View until last Saturday when he, too, resigned from the board.
Charlebois said he is disappointed Wilkinson has gone public with criticism of the party she has been a member of for more than 35 years.
"A political party is an association of like-minded individuals rowing in the same direction to achieve their goals within their political beliefs," the executive director noted in his e-mail.
McAllister unknown to Tories, says Wilkinson
E-mail statement from Kelley Charlebois
Executive Director PC Alberta
"I am disappointed by Gloria's comments but she is certainly entitled to her opinion. I know she supported John Fitzsimmons for President when he and Terri ran against each other last fall. I am further disappointed with Gloria's comments as she and I have been talking this week about a number of post-election matters the Party needs to work on. I had encouraged her to connect directly with Terri which I suspect she hasn't done.
A political Party is an association of like-minded individuals rowing in the same direction to achieve their goals within their political beliefs. The success of our Party relates to representing our members and their beliefs. The PC Party is proud of the tens of thousands of Albertans who are members and that find a home with us and metaphorically walk with us.
Lastly, my understanding is Gloria had volunteered to work on another campaign for the PC's in Calgary."
Wilkinson says she would have stayed with the Chestermere-Rocky View board and helped Bruce McAllister's campaign efforts if he had won the nomination by a vote. But, she said the acclamation was wrong and she also has too many questions about the former opposition MLA.
"He's been to one meeting. He usually sends a representative. So where is the person, who is the person that I'm supposed to help? I don't know."
Wilkinson said she is unsure whether McAllister will provide equal representation to all the residents of the riding, a sprawling constituency that basically makes a horseshoe along the sides and over the top of the city of Calgary. She says McAllister's base is in Chestermere in the east while she lives in the west.
McAllister did not respond to questions e-mailed to his campaign officials on Wednesday evening.
Wilkinson undecided over who to support
Jamie Lall, the disqualified Tory nomination candidate, has announced he will run as an independent in Chestermere-Rockyview. Wilkinson said he's a good candidate, but ultimately remains unsure of who she will support on election day.
"He's a lovely young man. He grew up in this riding, we all know him. I've got to ask him lots of questions ... I have the same questions for all of them."
Wilkinson said PC party executive director Kelley Charlebois asked her to think about working for the party in another riding. In his e-mail to CBC News, Charlebois says "my understanding is Gloria had volunteered to work on another campaign for the PC's in Calgary."
Wilkinson said that isn't the case.
"(He) asked me if I could consider working elsewhere for other constituencies and I said not unless they approach me because I'm not going to be told where to go or what to do."
So far, she said no constituencies have approached her for help.
Wilkinson said she doesn't want to toss mud in the middle of a campaign, but felt she had to speak up.
"I'm trying not to run anybody directly into the ground. But I am trying to describe the lack of respect, the lack of consideration, the lack of open democracy for people who have volunteered for years and years and years."