Steven Fletcher says he's received 'huge support' since ouster from PC party

Independent MLA Steven Fletcher says politicians from the left and right have reached out to him and offered encouragement since he was ousted from the Progressive Conservative caucus, but he has yet to hear from the premier or any senior members of his former party.

Assiniboia MLA waiting for an apology before considering return to Tory caucus

Independent MLA Steven Fletcher was booted out of the Progressive Conservative party after breaking with his caucus on a number of issues. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Independent MLA Steven Fletcher says politicians from the left and right have reached out to him since he was ousted from the Progressive Conservative caucus, but he has yet to hear from the premier or any senior members of his former party.

"I've received a huge amount of support from across party lines," Fletcher said on Wednesday.

The PC caucus voted in June to remove Fletcher from the party after the Assiniboia MLA openly questioned and criticized his party, including acting to delay the passage of a bill that created Crown corporation Efficiency Manitoba.

When asked on Wednesday whether the Tories are considering reinstating Fletcher, Sarah Guillemard, MLA for Fort Richmond, said their views haven't changed since he was kicked out more than a month ago.

"The member for Assiniboia is no longer part of our caucus as a result of a unanimous decision to expel him based on his actions that were contrary to our caucus principles," Guillemard said.

"The member for Assiniboia knows what he did and we are only here because of his actions and his refusal to be part of our team."

By now, Fletcher said, he had expected receive a letter, email or phone call from someone higher up in the PC party, but so far it's been radio silence.

"It's bizarre that still to this day I've not heard anything from a ranking member in the party," he said. "Obviously communication is an issue."

Fletcher has little to no regret about his conduct in the legislature or in public. He said it is part of his job to ask questions about policy direction or bills he has concerns about.

"Any MLA worth their salt is going to ask questions at committee," he said. "The caucus has a problem in the way it handles issues. This would never have happened federally."

Fletcher said that as a federal Conservative MP (Charleswood — St. James — Assiniboia) and cabinet minister under Stephen Harper, there were more avenues for caucus members to voice opinions and question bills than in Manitoba under Premier Brian Pallister.

While he refuses to speculate on the next provincial election in 2020, Fletcher seems keen to stay on as an independent.

"I'd like to be re-elected, but I have no expectation of it because a politician should have no expectation," he said.

The only way he would consider returning to his former party would be if they issued a public appology, Fletcher said.

Guillemard said Progressive Conservatives are in discussions with Assiniboia Tories to ensure the party is strong and ready in the constituency before voters head to the polls. All matters related to that are confidential party matters, she said.