Edmonton·Audio

Premier Jim Prentice says democracy thriving in Alberta

Premier Jim Prentice maintains democracy is alive and well in Alberta despite swallowing most of the official opposition Wednesday.

Party remains progressive, Prentice tells Edmonton AM's Mark Connolly

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says the nine defecting Wildrose MLAs are a welcome addition to the Tory caucus. (CBC)

Premier Jim Prentice maintains democracy is alive and well in Alberta despite swallowing most of the official opposition Wednesday. 

"I don’t equate democracy with conservatives fighting with conservatives," he told Edmonton AM's Mark Connolly Thursday morning.

On mobile? Listen to interview here 

Prentice pointed to the three opposition parties as evidence. The parties now have 14 members among them, plus one independent MLA, compared to the Tories' 72 seats.

Prentice also maintained his party remains progressive despite suggestions that the Wildrose members found his party attractive because it is more conservative than the Wildrose, 

"My entire life I spent fighting for progressive values," he said.

Prentice said somebody from the Wildrose first approached his office about a merger four or five weeks ago.

He said he was surprised when told and wasn’t sure if the offer was entirely serious so asked party whip George Vanderburg to follow up.

He eventually sat down with Danielle Smith last week, Prentice said.

Speaking on CBC Radio Thursday morning, Prentice also said he is not anticipating any more Wildrose MLAs will cross the floor to sit with his governing Progressive Conservative party.

“They're most welcome, they’re respected people and they want to make a contribution in what are pretty challenging times for us as a province,” he said.

Wildrose MLA disheartened, betrayed

Wildrose Pat Stier says he was shocked, disheartened and betrayed when nine of his caucus colleagues crossed the floor. 

"I’m really disappointed with what Danielle has decided to do," he told Connolly on Thursday. "It’s just so hard after you’ve worked with someone that you’ve had as a good friend for the past five years."

Stier said the process for joining the Progressive Conservatives should have included the voter.

On Facebook, Stier said Albertans elect MLAs in good faith and expect them to follow their decision.

"When a time for change becomes necessary for elected officials, in my opinion they should then follow a procedure that includes their electorate in the new process, prior to making such a change."

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