Leadership candidate eyeing Tory defectors

A candidate for the leadership of the Wildrose Alliance says conditions are ripe for some Progressive Conservative members to cross the floor of the legislature to join the upstart party.

A candidate for the leadership of the Wildrose Alliance says conditions are ripe for some Progressive Conservative members to cross the floor of the legislature to join the upstart party.

Mark Dyrholm says some members of the legislature have strong Conservative values that are being stifled under the current leadership.

Dyrholm says the ruling Tories have shifted to the left and left a bad taste in the mouths of pure Conservatives.

He suggests there is “a huge amount of discontent” in the Conservative party.

The Wildrose Alliance will hold its leadership convention Oct. 17 in Edmonton.

Dyrholm, a Calgary chiropractor, is running for the party’s leadership against former lobbyist and ex-newspaper columnist, Danielle Smith of Calgary.

“We are both 38 years old and were born the year the Tory dictatorship started, in 1971,” Dyrholm said.

He said the fear of opposing the Progressive Conservatives is real to many Albertans but feels it will dissipate if people believe the Wildrose Alliance could take power or become the official opposition if an election is called in 2012 or so.

“There are people giving money to the PCs who do not want to,” he said.

“There is bullying in this province. If people know that you don’t promote the PC party, you’re not going to get contracts.”

Dyrholm said changes to oil royalties have meant the industry is going to friendlier jurisdictions including Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

He thinks many Albertans could be drawn to the Wildrose Alliance because, like the original federal Reform party, it believes in fixed election dates, free votes for MLAs and the right of citizens to recall elected representatives who don’t live up to their promises.

The Wildrose Alliance party was formed in January 2008 when the Wildrose Party of Alberta merged with the Alberta Alliance Party.

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