Senator-in-waiting Byfield resigns
Former journalist Link Byfield has resigned as a senator-in-waiting from Alberta, accusing Tory Premier Ed Stelmach of doing nothing to advance the cause.
Byfield and three other senators-elect — Betty Unger, Bert Brown and Cliff Breitkreuz — were elected in 2004 in a provincial election. Then Liberal prime minister Paul Martin ignored the results, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper swiftly appointed Brown as soon as a Senate spot came open.
The six-year mandates from the 2004 vote were supposed to end this month, but Stelmach announced earlier this year that he would extend them by three years. That did not sit well with the three remaining senators-in-waiting.
Byfield, now a candidate for rival provincial party Wildrose Alliance, said the extension was tantamount to an appointment and he could not go along with it.
Unger and Breitkreuz have stayed on, fearing that if all three resigned there might be nobody ready to take a spot in the Senate when the next Alberta vacancy comes up.
"You made almost no effort to lend government support to us senators-elect as we spent our time promoting the cause over six years," Byfield wrote in his resignation letter to Stelmach.
"As premier you have provided no meaningful support to the repeated efforts of Prime Minister Harper to reform the Senate, he being the first prime minister in Canadian history determined to do so."
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Byfield compared Stelmach with his predecessors in the premier's job.
"A premier with any kind of vision, like [Peter] Lougheed or [Don] Getty who worked hard for Senate reform, they would push," Byfield said.
"They would say we have an obligation to our country to fix our federal system so Parliament functions the way that it should, and let's do it. But first Ralph [Klein] and now Ed are simply not there."
A spokesman for Stelmach would only point out that Byfield is set to run as a candidate in the next provincial election.
Alberta Conservative MPs, including Harper, have been careful not to betray their allegiances in the battle between Danielle Smith's Wildrose Alliance and Stelmach's Progressive Conservatives.