Rick Strankman, an Alberta political folk hero has called it quits with the United Conservative Party of Alberta (UCP). Early Tuesday he announced he would begin sitting as an independent MLA effective immediately.
Rick is known in conservative circles as well as in his constituency as a die-hard activist. for those of you who don't know Rick Strankman was thrown in jail by the Chrétien Liberals for simply protesting the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly. That's right - this MLA has been to prison and back simply for fighting for Western Canadian grain farmers right to sell their grain to whomever they please.
Rick has been seen as a steady hand for conservative parties in Alberta. Rick had the courage and moral fortitude to not cross the floor with the Danielle Smith Progressive Conservatives, even when that was the easy thing to do. Instead Rick sat almost alone in the Wildrose benches representing the party that his constituents elected. Conservatives know that Rick always does what's right, which is what has made Tuesday's announcement so surprising too many.
I had the opportunity to interview Rick over the phone, I asked him about conservative unity in the province, I wanted the inside scoop of what was going on in the UCP backroom.
UCP nomination contests have been one of the troubles ridden series of primaries Albertans have seen in a long while. Doesn’t it seem odd that women made up 28% of the candidate roster, yet had a 51% chance of winning their nomination? Maybe you could write that off as UCP members just wanting more women involved in politics? Well, I would buy that if not for the fact that every single one of the candidates that were disqualified by the party brass were men.
In the meantime, Rick Strankman confirmed he would stay on as an MLA, doing his best to represent the grassroots of his constituency as an Independent.