Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Kerry Towle and Little Bow MLA Ian Donovan announced their decision today to leave the opposition party.
"I made my decision yesterday and it's incredibly difficult," a visibly emotional Towle said at a midday news conference with Prentice and Donovan. "I consider most of my caucus mates my friends, but I felt that I had done all that I could in the role that I was in."
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Towle said that she made her decision after talking to her constituents, who liked the direction the new government was taking.
Towle said that fractures on the direction of the party leadership, which she supported, played a part and that the past five weeks have been difficult.
“We are a party of free votes. However, our membership was deciding how I, as an MLA, was expected to vote and that caused me great conflict," Towle said.
"I just felt that some of the decisions that were being made were taking our party in a way that was not in line with what my constituents elected me to do ... I didn't think I could do anything to fix that path."
Donovan said he was crossing to the PCs because he was impressed with Prentice's leadership.
"For my constituents, I think I can do the best from the inside making the decisions around the table with the governing party and under the new leadership of Premier Prentice," he said.
Towle said she didn't know that Donovan had also decided to leave the Wildrose Party until last night. She said she first reached out to the PCs last week to find out what would be involved if she crossed the floor.
Prentice said that he did not make any deals with Towle and Donovan when they decided to join the PCs.
"This is about their personal views of where they can be most effective," he said. "Neither one has been promised anything and neither one of these people has asked for anything. It speaks to their integrity.”
Towle and Donovan were not expected in the legislative assembly today. Prentice said his new MLAs will take their new seats on Tuesday.
The departures leave the Wildrose with 14 seats in the Legislature, while increasing the Tories to 63. Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith is expected to comment on the departures in a news conference at 3:30 MT. CBC will be livestreaming her remarks.
Third MLA to leave Wildrose
The defections are the latest incident in recent months for the Wildrose Party.
The party didn’t take a single riding from the governing PCs in the four byelections on Oct. 27. Then Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Joe Anglin left the Wildrose to sit as an independent, hours before he was set to be kicked out.
The defections come after a fractious annual general meeting in Red Deer where delegates defeated a motion to include an affirmation of rights for every Albertans, regardless of their race, religion and sexual orientation.
That decision prompted Terry Lo, a Calgary party member and parent of a gay son, to leave his post in a constituency association.
On Monday, the Wildrose caucus approved the same motion that was defeated at the AGM.