Alberta’s ruling Progressive Conservatives suffer new defection

Cabinet member quits the Progressive Conservatives in latest protest against leader

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 9:21pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 9:21pm

Alberta's Progressive Conservative government, which has run the oil-rich Canadian province for more than four decades, suffered another defection in the latest protest against the leadership of Premier Alison Redford.

Donna Kennedy-Glans, a junior member of Redford's cabinet, said on Monday she would resign as associate minister for electricity and renewable energy and sit as an independent in the provincial legislature.

"Since being elected ... and particularly since joining cabinet, I am increasingly convinced that elements of this 43-year-old government are simply unable to make the changes needed to achieve that dream of a better Alberta," Kennedy-Glans said in a statement.

The resignation is the second from the Progressive Conservative caucus in less than a week. They follow a series of controversies related to Redford's travel and spending habits that have hurt the party in the polls.

Alberta, the largest source of imported oil in the United States, is flush with cash from production from the oil sands in the northern part of the province.

While the Alberta government's operating budget is in surplus, Redford is spending heavily on capital programmes to cope with rapid population growth. This has added billions in debt to a province that had prided itself on being debt-free before her election.

Redfor agreed earlier this month to repay the C$45,000 (HK$317,000) that was spent on first-class tickets for her and an aide to attend Nelson Mandela's funeral.

CBC News reported on Monday that 10 Progressive Conservative members met in secret on the weekend to consider whether they would leave Redford's government and sit as independents.