Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Rod Fox said he had chosen to join the PC caucus in the Legislature because the leadership of Premier Jim Prentice had brought Wildrose and PCs closer with unified goals.
“These are the same principles that I ran under in the last election,” said Fox in an interview with Ponoka News.
He said advocating for his constituents, many of whom had voted because of his alignment with the Wildrose Party, would still be a priority.
He added that being a member of the PC Party would help him get things done in the legislature rather than being stalled.
Despite the positive tone he tried to reflect, Fox struggled to answer direct questions regarding his personal opinion on Smith’s move. When asked why he did not go independent like Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Joe Anglin, Fox answered that he felt he would be able to enact policies that he has been fighting for.
“We’re doing very good work,” said Fox.
He said the decision did not come lightly and he is still proud of the changes the Wildrose Party helped bring about.
Fox claimed that Prentice had bridged the gap between the two parties. “These were the policies that I ran under and those are the policies and principles that this government has adopted,” said Fox.
A letter to the editor submitted to Ponoka News by Rod Fox also reflected the unease the MLA has felt regarding his decision to desert the Wildrose Party.
“I have made an extremely difficult decision, to join the governing PC Party of Alberta.
“Although this was personally a decision that was reached after many hours of agonizing and soul searching, I feel that it is now in the best interests of this area, for me to work from within the government rather than the outside,” the letter said.
“I finally made my decision minutes before it was due,” Fox explained.
He also claimed “I was thinking about what is best for Alberta.”
The other MLAs who crossed the floor were Gary Bikman, Cardston-Taber-Warner, Jason Hale of Strathmore-Brooks, Bruce McAllister of Chestermere-Rocky View, Rob Anderson of Airdrie, Jeff Wilson of Calgary-Shaw, Blake Pederson of Medicine Hat and Bruce Rowe of Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills.
Reactions on Twitter were mixed. Greg Bratt questioned the decision. “Our MLA essentially changed the vote of his supporters en masse. That makes no sense.”
However, Ponoka resident Rob McArthur feels Prentice is the right kind of balance for the province. “Prentice is bringing PC back to where it belongs. #Wildrose was a little bit extreme for (my) liking. Happy to see our MLA cross.”
Former NDP candidate Kyle Morrow was quick to state his displeasure. “Rod Fox’s decision to cross the floor is an absolute betrayal of those who voted for change.”
The future of the Wildrose Party remains uncertain with only a press release by the executive committee stating its commitment to Albertans.