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Apprehended insurrections: Tory party slams the door shut after three horses leave the barn

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Jamie Lall

Cabinet and caucus may now be under Premier Jim Prentice's iron fist, but the evidence suggests a state of apprehended insurrection exists within the Progressive Conservative Party's membership.

It seems likely the anonymous source quoted by the Calgary Herald got it right when he or she suggested a straight line runs from the loss by former Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith on Saturday in the Highwood Riding PC nomination vote to the PC Party's disqualification of candidate Jamie Lall in Chestermere-Rocky View in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Rebellious PC Party members in Highwood rejected Ms. Smith, the most high profile Wildrose turncoat seeking a PC nomination on the weekend, despite public support for her by Premier Jim Prentice and cabinet ministers Manmeet Bhullar, Ric McIver, Wayne Drysdale, Dianna McQueen and Jonathan Denis.

As noted in this space on Sunday, many of Smith's former supporters in the Wildrose Party were furious at her betrayal last December, and large numbers of PC supporters were not all that enthusiastic about the idea of someone who had been slamming them for three years in the Legislature might soon be welcomed to sit in the party's front benches.

Still, there is no way Saturday's vote result can be described as anything but a setback and an embarrassment for Prentice, since the Wildrose floor-crossers are widely believed to have been promised endorsements and easy runs for the PC nominations in their own ridings.

In addition to Smith's loss to Okotoks town councillor Carrie Fischer, which is rumoured to have been by a substantial margin, two other floor-crossers, Gary Bikman in Cardston-Taber-Warner and Rod Fox in Lacombe-Ponoka were beaten in PC nomination races Saturday.

You'd almost think some Wildrosers in Alberta were also members of the PC Party, something that’s been known to happen from time to time in this province.

Which brings us to Lall. Just after 3 a.m. Sunday, PC Alberta President Terri Beaupre emailed out a statement announcing Lall had been disqualified as a candidate. No reasons were given.

Lall's challenger? Former Wildrose MLA Bruce McAllister, who will now be acclaimed as the Tory candidate.

"At the end of the day I am most disappointed that the people of Chestermere-Rocky View were robbed of their right to participate in the democratic process," Lall said on Facebook.

With three horses missing, the door of the PC barn had been slammed shut. But will that make the members behave themselves, or will it make their rebellion worse?

As per standard PC operating procedure, the Herald reported that PC Executive Director Kelley Charlebois refused to comment.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

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