POLITICS

Rathgeber's Riding Team Sticks With Harper And Tory Party

06/07/2013 04:25 EDT | Updated 08/07/2013 05:12 EDT
CP
The Conservative riding association in Brent Rathgeber's Edmonton riding says it wasn't consulted before the MP's resignation from the Tory caucus.

A statement issued Friday from the Edmonton-St. Albert Electoral District Association (EDA) for the Conservative Party of Canada expresses "full support for the policies of the Conservative Party of Canada and its full support for the party’s leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper."

The EDA says it is "disappointed with both Mr. Rathgeber’s decision and the lack of consultation."

“People are still shocked [but] I think they’re starting to get over it, and have accepted the decision,” said EDA president Darren Bieganek on Thursday. “Even if they don’t necessarily agree with it. But we’ll move forward with the business of the decision.”

The statement came on the heels of scathing criticism from Rathgeber Thursday, explaining his decision to resign in the context of a series of frustrations with his party's lack of transparency and the oppressive control Tory MPs face from advisers "half his age" in the Prime Minister's Office.

Rathgeber did not explicitly criticize Harper, however.

Rathgeber announced his resignation on Twitter on Wednesday evening, saying he had notified the board of directors for his riding association as well as the Speaker of the House of Commons of his decision. He did not mention talking it over with his riding association in advance.

Following Rathgeber’s announcement, EDA board member Doug Elniski also resigned in protest, saying that he too was upset by what he calls a lack of transparency in the Prime Minister's Office.

The prime minister's spokesman suggested almost immediately, also on Twitter, that Rathgeber should resign his seat and run in a byelection as an Independent if he no longer wanted to sit as a Conservative.

This suggestion was seconded by Edmonton-Spruce Grove MP Rona Ambrose, who rose in the House and called for Rathgeber to resign outright. She said he should run again as an Independent, which he has refused to do.

Building on that, the statement from Rathgeber's former constituency association says that if Rathgeber does "resign his seat after determining that it is the will of his constituents that he resign to run as an Independent in a byelection, then the EDA will be fully prepared to contest that election for the Conservative Party of Canada."

Federal riding boundaries in Edmonton are part of a redistribution plan to add new Alberta seats to the House of Commons. The Tory riding association asked the Conservative Party to "take immediate steps thereafter" to allow them to nominate a new candidate for the next election.

“I think the party has very strong support in St. Albert and the northern part of Edmonton, and if [Rathgeber] chooses to run, we’re ready to run against him,” said Bieganek.

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