04/14/2012 03:35 EDT | Updated 06/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Alberta Election 2012: Peter Lougheed Backs Alison Redford's Progressive Conservatives


CALGARY - The patriarch of Alberta's Progressive Conservative party has made a plea to Conservatives who have switched to the rival Wildrose, by pledging support for Alison Redford Saturday.

Former premier Peter Lougheed said in a news release that he and his family have even been doorknocking on behalf of Redford and the Progressive Conservatives.

"I want them to think about it and I want them to listen carefully to what Alison Redford is saying, to reflect on what I've been saying, to look forward to an Alberta in the future," Lougheed said in the news release, which used comments the former premier made to CTV.

"She's a positive thinker and she has an up-to-date view of the province. She knows the issues, she knows the province, she has had great experience internationally and had a great feel for Canada at large," he added.

"This is a harder campaign...because we’ve been there for 40 years and obviously these are difficult and challenging times."

Lougheed was carried to power in 1971 and knocked off the Social Credit Party that had ruled Alberta for decades. It's the same sort of wave that Wildrose is hoping for on April 23.

Lougheed's endorsement comes at a crucial time for the Conservatives who have been both trailing and running neck-and-neck with the Wildrose in the first three weeks of the campaign.

The Wildrose, a party further right than the right-centre Tories, is made up of many ex-Tories who feel their former party has abandoned its roots of fiscal conservatism and grassroots decision making.

With her party's success so far Wildrose leader Danielle Smith was offering no apologies for keeping a tight rein on both successful and failed candidates in the current provincial election campaign.

"I think people were expecting that we would have a bunch of eruptions and explosions and undisciplined candidates through the course of the election campaign. I'm sorry to disappoint you," Smith told reporters at a campaign stop in Calgary Saturday.

"I mean you can continue I suppose hoping that one of them is going to have a bozo eruption and I suppose maybe that's what you're upset about is that our candidates are seriously focused on the messages we're putting forward in this campaign."

During the campaign the platform has focused on allowing MLAs to have free votes in the legislature and the use of citizen sponsored referendum to return power to the grassroots.

But Smith confirmed that anyone who sought a party nomination for Wildrose were required to post a $1000 good conduct bond and so far only the winning candidates have had the cash returned.

"We're not going to return those good conduct bonds to the failed nominees until after the election because we're wanting to make sure through the process of our nominations that we have respectful nominations, that people respect the outcome and they don't try to sabotage the candidate who defeated them," Smith said.

"Sometimes nominations get kind of heated and sometimes nominees don't accept the outcome and so as a result we wanted to make sure they have an incentive to stand behind the result of our elected nominee."

Smith used a visit to Calgary's Stars Air Ambulance to announced Wildrose would expand the scope of a judicial health inquiry to include allegations of doctor intimidation and queue jumping. She accused Premier Alison Redford of not just breaking her promise of holding a full inquiry - she says she "shattered it".

Smith told reporters in Calgary that a Wildrose government would be bound to the recommendations of a full inquiry into allegations raised by the Health Quality Council report.

"We will examine the scope of the inquiry and expand it to look at the issue of intimidation of health care professionals," she said.

"We have to make sure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. We also need a thorough investigation into the allegations of bullying and intimidation of our health care professionals by bureaucrats and politicians and of queue jumping by political insiders."

The report blamed the Conservative government for taking a struggling hospital system and running it off the road, which led to widespread intimidation of doctors who complained about the deteriorating patient care.

Smith said her party, if elected, would follow the recommendations of the inquiry.

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