Drumheller – Stettler MLA Rick Strankman is leaving the UCP party and sitting as an Independent.
MLA Strankman slammed what he called the “hyper-partisan self-centred politics at play in Alberta” as a reason.
“Sitting as an independent removes me from the current undemocratic atmosphere that is being fostered,” he said in a release.
MLA Strankman was elected in 2012 and again in 2015 in the Drumheller-Stettler riding.
He said since the Wildrose and PC parties amalgamated “it is becoming increasingly clear to me that this is not including the grassroots principles of strong conservative Albertan values.”
Strankman, in a phone interview, said he will continue to work effectively.
“I want the constituents to know and be crystal clear their representation will stay absolutely the same and now I can focus directly on that without any party distractions.”
After Strankman’s announcement, UCP Leader Jason Kenney tweeted that it was disappointing.
“We are potentially less than three weeks before an election call,” added Kenney. “Our focus remains the same: end the NDP’s job-killing policies, renew the Alberta Advantage to reignite our economy, and stand up to the Trudeau Liberals in Ottawa.”
Strankman said there are economic development opportunities in the riding that should be developed such as repairing roads towards the Saskatchewan border.
“They are in dismal need of repair. If (Alberta and Saskatchewan roads upgraded) there would be a marvellous economic opportunity between Saskatoon and Red Deer.”
The right has united under the UCP banner but MLA Strankman says “the even greater challenge is to stay together.”
He added these are trying economic time for Albertans.
“There is a lot of frustration in the province right now with the economy and negativity over the lack of production of oil and shipping thereof to create wealth.”
In addition, MLA Strankman said he disagrees with UCP Leader Jason Kenney singularly developing the UCP platform.
“I think that should have been left to the members, the Albertans to bring forward.”
MLA Strankman said he hasn’t decided whether or not he will run as an Independent in the next provincial election in 2019.
“I haven’t given that any consideration at this time. I think it’s more important to put my focus on the constituency and my direct representation to the constituents will be no different than under the UCP banner. My office, my staff will stay the same in that regard.”
Last September MLA Strankman lost the UCP nomination in Drumheller-Stettler to Nate Horner.
Former Tory MLA Ian Donovan left his UCP board in January citing “corruption and backroom deals” as a reason.
Calgary-Greenway MLA Prab Gill left the UCP in December and sits as an Independent. He called the UCP’s nominations “crooked and racist.”