Cypress/Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes announced last Thursday in Medicine Hat that he would be running for the leadership seat for the Wildrose Party, joining MLAs Linda Osinchuk and Brian Jean in a race to lead the Party that faced betrayal and disgrace.
Barnes was one of just five Wildrose MLAs to not cross the floor to the Conservative government last year when nine of his colleagues abandoned ship along with Danielle Smith.
If selected as leader, Barnes, who was elected as MLA for the Cypress/Medicine Hat riding in 2012, will have much work to do in repairing the trust that was lost among Albertans when those colleagues crossed the floor.
While the three candidates have said Wildrose members have moved on from the ‘betrayal’, they should not discount the fact that Albertans have long memories and there will be a provincial election coming, although there has been no word that Premier Prentice will call an early election…yet.
Should Prentice call an early provincial election, and it is looking like he may just do that (having hinted more than once that the upcoming provincial budget will demand an election), the Wildrose Party will have a lot of fence-mending to do in a short time if they are to regain some of the trust lost last year.
Barnes believes the Wildrose Party is ready to rebuild its connections with Albertans and Party members have moved on from last year’s scandal.
“People tell me they want to see more democratic accountability and trust. Tired of scandals, tired of the entitlement, it’s time to re-engage Albertans by running the best government and outside of the legislature,” Barnes said, adding that he sees a strong province built on hard work and determination.
“I have a vision for the Wildrose Party and for our province,” said Barnes in a release. “It is a vision I know many of us share: Alberta, strong and free, where hard work and determination are rewarded with new hope and new opportunity.”
The same day that Barnes made the his announcement, the Wildrose Party moved its leadership selection date from June 6 to March 28. Telephone balloting of Party members will run for 12 days, starting on March 16.