A turbulent December has caused some in the Opposition benches to wonder about the future of the Wildrose Party.
But newly appointed Opposition House Leader Shayne Saskiw said that with a ruling late last month from the speaker of the legislature, the Wildrose Party retains their official Opposition status and with that perks of being the main opponent of the governing Progressive Conservative party.
“This means that we have the resources to continue to advocate for the 440,000 people who voted for the Wildrose Party in 2012,” he said.
“It also means more resources for research and communications.”
Saskiw said that the process while new was healthy for democracy. “It’s not good in a democracy, to not have an opposition, or an (ineffective opposition.”
While last month’s setback is still fresh in the minds of some people, Saskiw said that the Wildrose still is the only party that can hold the government to account and form a true, viable opposition for the PC government.
Before the Christmas break, the five remaining Wildrose MLAs and the party brass appointed Heather Forsyth as interim leader.
Saskiw said that appointing Forsyth would help bring integrity to the party after the defection of the leader and nine other members.
“She has been in Alberta politics for over two decades and has unquestionable integrity, and is well respected throughout the province of Alberta, to the days when she was in cabinet as solicitor general,” said Saskiw.
Saskiw added that Forsyth is a veteran of politics and extremely fierce in the legislature.
“We are very pleased to have someone with her credibility leading our organization,” he said.
The party will now begin the process of selecting a new leader before the next general election, expected in 2016.
Saskiw said that one of the main focuses, besides holding the government to account will the selection of a new leader.
“We will be going through the process this year and selecting the rules of choosing a new leader. And that will begin very shortly,” he said.
“While we are holding the Prentice government to account, we will be looking for new leadership for the Wildrose.”
Asked if he had decided if he would be throwing his hat into the ring for the leadership of the Wildrose Party, Saskiw played coy.
“Right now the focus is on, and this is my own focus, is making sure that we provide a viable alternative and an effective opposition,” he said. “A decision like that would only come after consultations with family members, supporters and constituency members.”
According to party policy, a leadership race must take place within three to nine months of a leadership vacancy.
Wildrose executives are expected to announced the rules sometime later this month.