Former Airdrie Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson wrote an open letter to the Wildrose Party Nov. 26 apologizing for crossing the floor to join the Progressive Conservatives (PCs) nearly two years ago.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now,” Anderson told the Airdrie City View.
“The goal to merge the two conservative parties in Alberta was, I believe, the right one. I think now it’s very apparent that it was the right one, but the way we went about it, it was flawed from the start.
“We should have all gone to our constituents and our party memberships of both parties and tried to advocate for that position and try to get feedback so that we could make a decision that wasn’t so surprising and jarring to people. A lot of people got hurt by it.”
Anderson – along with former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and eight other Wildrose MLAs – crossed the floor to join the PCs under former premier Jim Prentice in December 2014.
“He made me and many of my colleagues believe that if we could look past our differences with those on the PC side and combine our efforts towards his new direction for the government, we could implement so many of the policies we had been working towards for so long,” Anderson wrote in his letter, which he posted on his blog The Recovering Politician.
“For the first four months of his tenure, it seemed like there was a real chance to put Alberta back on track – to form the long-term sizeable majority necessary to repairing our finances, property laws, education and healthcare systems – and to do so by bringing the conservative family back together again.”
In Anderson’s letter, he encourages members of the Wildrose Party to continue those efforts and contribute to a unity movement.
“As you are aware, a large number of Albertans, including, most notably, Mr. Jason Kenney, are seeking to merge the Wildrose and PC parties and the vast majority of their supporters into one conservative movement and party,” Anderson wrote.
“I sincerely hope you will all consider contributing to this unity movement as much as you can. I believe it to be critical to the future of Alberta.”
Less than a month after Anderson crossed the floor, he decided to step down from politics after seven years and not seek re-election in the 2015 provincial election.
In Anderson’s letter, he said he, along with the other MLAs who crossed, received death threats for several months following their decision to join the PCs.
“I wish you could appreciate the endless sleepless nights, the tears shed, the confusion, the guilt, the fear and the feelings of utter helplessness that these MLAs and our families endured during that time,” Anderson wrote.
He said since posting his apology letter he has received hundreds of letters and emails from people with positive feedback.
“The vast majority are very forgiving and understanding,” Anderson said. “I just thought that if it could help to heal some old wounds and bring people together and make it easier for a unified conservative movement in some way, I wanted to do it.”
Anderson also crossed the floor from the PCs to join the Wildrose Party in 2010.