First casualty of outrage at Wildrose floor crossing? Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson says he will quit politics

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PHOTO: Airdrie Progressive Conservative, formerly Wildrose, formerly Progressive Conservative MLA Rob Anderson speaking in the snow on the steps of the Alberta Legislature last winter.

Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson, understood to have been one of the key leaders in the controversial effort to get the majority of the Wildrose caucus to defect to the Progressive Conservative Party on Dec. 17, announced on Facebook just before midnight he intends to leave politics after the next Alberta general election.

It’s the season for the traditional Canadian political “walk in the snow,” and in a long statement on the social media site, Mr. Anderson said he told Premier Jim Prentice before Christmas of his decision “I would not be seeking re-election.

“I also thanked him for his leadership in working with my colleagues and I to unite like-minded Albertans committed to fiscal responsibility and ethical governance,” the double-floor-crossing MLA said.

The abrupt timing of the announcement, nevertheless, suggests that the ambitious Mr. Anderson is the first high-profile victim of the backlash in conservative circles against the defection of himself, former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, and seven other members of the Wildrose caucus to the Progressive Conservative benches on the same day.

At the time of the floor crossings, Mr. Anderson was widely and confidently predicted in the mainstream media and the blogosphere, as well as in government circles, to be in line for a senior position in Mr. Prentice’s cabinet. However, reportedly in the face of stiff opposition from some members of the premier’s own Progressive Conservative caucus, that commitment – if such a commitment was in fact made – appears now to have been pulled off the table.

Mr. Anderson said in his Facebook statement that in his last weeks or months in office “it will be my pleasure to help serve the government as we work to advance critical pipeline infrastructure, recalibrate the provincial budget so it can be balanced at a lower oil price, cut waste, increase government transparency and reprioritize spending to core services and infrastructure.”

He said that he and his wife both hope to pursue careers in the private sector and spend more time with their four young sons.

Mr. Anderson, 37, has a law degree from the University of Alberta and a bachelor of arts degree from Brigham Young University in Utah.

He was first elected as a PC MLA in 2008, crossed the floor to join the Wildrose Party in 2010, and re-crossed to rejoin the PCs last month. Before his most recent journey across the floor, Mr. Anderson was the Wildrose Party House leader.

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