As of October 4, 2017, there are officially three independent MLAs in the Alberta Legislature; former NDP MLA Karen McPherson became the second MLA in the past few weeks to sit as an independent after Rick Fraser resigned from the UCP caucus on September 21. Derek Fildebrandt, MLA for Strathmore-Brooks resigned from the UCP caucus in August over an expense scandal but that was simply to take heat off of the party. Add to this the lone MLAs from the Liberal party, Dr. David Swann, the Alberta Party, Greg Clark, and Richard Starke who was granted permission to remain a PC MLA for Vegreville – Lloydminster, and you have a very different set up in the legislature than was elected in 2015.
Speculation about where the independents will go has been going on since Starke refused to become a UCP MLA and became deeper when Fraser resigned. With the addition of Karen McPherson, some, like Cory Morgan, are predicting a surge to the Alberta Party. If Morgan is correct, though, we should see a number of NDP MLAs outside of the provincial capital also taking on independent status in order to give themselves a chance at re-election.
Not to be outdone by allowing media a moment to focus on someone else, Jeff Callaway, UCP leadership contender also resigned and, unsurprisingly, endorsed Kenney. Callaway sent out an email blaming Brian Jean’s staff for attempting to intimidate him. Yes, Callaway pointed the finger, take your guess of which one, squarely at Brian Jean; if you can’t beat ’em, smear ’em. All of this is meant to drive hundreds or thousands of voters away from Mean Jean and into the welcoming arms of Jason Kenney, who also had his detractors today.
If you happened to miss the reports of a terror attack in Edmonton over the weekend, news is starting to come out about the suspect who was taken into custody that night. In a unique twist, the driver of the truck was an asylum seeker from the U.S. whose petition was granted under Jason Kenney’s watch as Immigration Minister back in 2012. My expectation would be the connection matters much less to those who don’t support Kenney than those who do, which is an unfortunate side effect of fear-mongering to your base.
So for those of you keeping track, while Callaway may have earned some points for Kenney by dragging Jean and his supporters through the mud, his base might be a more put off by the idea that a potential terrorist was allowed in under his term. To Kenney’s credit, or lack thereof, he blamed the Liberals, the NDP and Obama (yes, Obama) for Canada granting asylum to a man who was ordered to be deported from the U.S. And quietly we lay down wondering what the hell is going to happen in Alberta politics tomorrow.