Alberta Politics

MLA Karen McPherson bids farewell to the Alberta NDP

Photo: Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill MLA Karen McPherson (right) and Calgary-Northern Hills MLA Jamie Kleinsteuber (left). Source: Facebook

There have been a lot of changes on the opposition side of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly this year, but today marked the first time since 2015 that we saw a decline in the number of MLAs on the government side.

Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill MLA Karen McPherson unexpectedly announced on social media this morning that she was leaving the governing New Democratic Party caucus in order to sit as an Independent MLA. Elected in the Orange Wave that swept Alberta in 2015, McPherson has kept a relatively low profile in the Assembly while serving as chairperson of the Standing Committee on Private Bills.

In a statement that in parts sounded somewhat similar to what former UCP MLA Rick Fraser wrote last month when he announced he was sitting as an Independent MLA, McPherson wrote:

“Alberta, in fact the world, is changing quickly and I believe our political processes need to reflect these shifts. Continuing to do politics the way it’s being done will lead to further polarization. We are missing the middle where we have more in common with each other than we are different. Albertans need political choices that inspire them, not scare them.”

McPherson’s letter was short on details but included statements about the need to transform the health care and education system and the role of technology in the economy, including expanding high speed internet to all rural communities (she also mentioned this in a promotional video produced by the NDP caucus in July 2016).

As a backbench MLA, McPherson’s departure is not likely to have any significant impact on the functions of the government. But it does mark the most significant breach of party discipline the NDP has experienced during their first term in government. To their credit, Rachel Notley‘s NDP have done an impressive job enforcing MLA discipline in the government caucus, avoiding the kind of embarrassing bozo-eruptions that have plagued the Conservative opposition benches over the past two years.

Despite her low-profile and her insistence that the decision was made without malice, McPherson’s departure does add fuel to the narrative that the NDP is weak in Calgary, which is expected to be a key electoral battleground in the next election.

SHOCKER: Callaway endorses Kenney

If McPherson’s announcement came out of nowhere, the decision by Jeff Callaway to drop out of the United Conservative Party leadership race to endorse Jason Kenney was the exact opposite. Most political watchers I have spoken with believe that Callaway’s only real reason for entering the UCP leadership race was to attack Brian Jean on Kenney’s behalf.

3 replies on “MLA Karen McPherson bids farewell to the Alberta NDP”

Could her exit letter have read any more like it was written by Greg Clark’s team? She had nothing to say on the radio besides “I need a month to talk to my constituents”, so look for her, Fraser, Clark and at least one other to do some big Alberta Party reveal, right around the time the UCP picks their leader. It’s obvious they want to interrupt Jason Kenney’s coronation party. If anyone saw the notice for the AB Party’s upcoming AGM, an astute person could wager who their “not yet announced” keynote speakers probably are (cough Karen, cough Rick, cough).

Do they truly think Albertans are this stupid thou? Do we need this level of Kabuki theatre from the “just as far right but not so-con” crowd? Does gaining official party status in the Legislature matter if they are still polling at 2%? No one believes in their nebulous nonsense about a third way of doing things, in fact most Albertans don’t even know the Alberta Party exists. I don’t think continuing the “musical chairs on the Titantic” game that the Wildrose started back in 2015 is going to help them become relevant. But hey, I guess someone needs to take Stephen Mandel’s money and it’s always nice to see vote splits on the right.

Self-preservation is starting to kick in for some New Democrats. The writing is on the wall. First to jump off the sinking ship. Insert another cliche here.

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