CALGARY - Members of Alberta's Progressive Conservative Party meet in Calgary starting today to debate their constitution and decide whether it's time to fence out their federal cousins.

Members are to vote on a motion this weekend to strip the automatic voting privileges given to Alberta Conservative MPs.

The motion highlights a growing rift between the two parties.

It was plainly visible in Alberta's recent general election, which saw some federal Conservatives supporting opposition Wildrose candidates.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford says it's an interesting motion and she is keen to hear what delegates think.

She says regardless of the outcome it shows that politics in Alberta is changing and that traditional provincial-federal ties between parties are evolving.

"I don't see anything wrong with having the discussion, but I don't think there should ever be any assumption that there will always be that sort of crossover," said Redford.

"We see that politics in Alberta has been getting quite interesting. We know that during the provincial election there were people who had all sorts of memberships in all sorts of parties working on different campaigns."

About 1,000 delegates are expected at the convention, the first since Redford took the Tories to a majority win on April 23.

They will also review the rules on how the party picks the leader.

While the media will be allowed to cover Redford's speech tonight, the debating sessions on changing the constitution will be done behind closed doors.

"We want to make sure all delegates can have a free and open and frank discussion, so we've decided to organize it this way," said Redford.

"The media are welcome, as you always have been, to be at the convention to speak to all the delegates. You know that a lot of times delegates spend more time roaming in the hallways than they do in the sessions."

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said closed sessions don't match Redford's pledge for open government.

"For all her talk about raising the bar on openness, transparency and accountability, we've seen precious little of it," said Smith.

"This is just one more closed meeting."

Smith said the motion on federal Tory voting privileges is "reflecting the reality that there a lot of federal Conservative MPs who are conflicted about which party is the true voice of conservatism (in Alberta)."

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  • Alison Redford's Christmas Greeting

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  • Ed Stelmach On U.S.

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  • Ralph Klein takes on Dalton McGuinty

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    "Would somebody please outline to me the advantages of our doing it this way? For me, an Albertan? What are they? Can you give me a couple of them? What do I as an Albertan gain by this mad rush up there?" -- <a href="" target="_hplink">He asks in <em>The Globe And Mail</em></a>. (CP)

  • Ralph Klein On Mad Cow Disease

    "I guess any self-respecting rancher would have shot, shovelled and shut up, but he didn't do that. Instead he took it to an abattoir." -- At the discovery of mad cow disease <a href="" target="_hplink">on an Alberta ranch.</a> (CP)

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    "Let them freeze in the dark." -- Lougheed takes on Trudeau regarding the NEP in the 70s. The quote is also cited as the more contentious bumper sticker fodder, 'Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark.'