Boutilier ex­pected to join Wil­drose cau­cus


In­de­pen­dent Fort McMur­ray MLA and for­mer cabi­net min­is­ter Guy Boutilier is ex­pected to join the fledg­ling Wil­drose Al­liance party cau­cus Fri­day.

The an­nounce­ment comes al­most a year af­ter Premier Ed Stel­mach dumped Boutilier from the govern­ment’s cau­cus, and is ex­pected to jump-start the Wil­drose Al­liance’s week­end con­ven­tion in Red Deer.

Ru­mours Boutilier would join the Wil­drose Al­liance’s cau­cus have cir­cled in the leg­is­la­ture for sev­eral months but, on Mon­day, sources close to the Wil­drose and Boutilier con­firmed the move.

Party leader Danielle Smith, how­ever, would not dis­cuss Boutilier’s floor-cross­ing.

“Noth­ing’s been fi­nal­ized. I mean, we’ve been talk­ing for some time, but you know how these things go. There’s al­ways dis­cus­sions and ne­go­ti­a­tions,” she said. “I just can’t con­firm that at the moment. It would be pre­ma­ture to con­firm one way or the other.”

Wil­lie Hoflin — a for­mer vicepres­i­dent of the PC rid­ing as­so­ci­a­tion in Fort McMur­ray who is now the lo­cal Wil­drose con­stituency pres­i­dent — said he has urged Boutilier to make the jump.

“I think there’s a chance, but I hon­estly haven’t talked to him to­day. I know he was meet­ing with the Wil­drose last week, but I’m not sure what came of it,” Hoflin said.

Boutilier joined Smith at a pub­lic meet­ing in Lac la Biche ear­lier this month, af­ter which he de­scribed her as im­pres­sive and com­pared her to for­mer Al­berta pre­miers “Peter Lougheed and Ralph Klein all rolled into one.”

Stel­mach tossed Boutilier from the govern­ment cau­cus last sum­mer af­ter he pub­licly protested the prov­ince’s fail­ure to build a nurs­ing home in his rid­ing and ac­cused then-health min­is­ter Ron Liepert of talk­ing “gib­ber­ish.”

Since then, Boutilier has sat alone in the leg­is­la­ture, as an In­de­pen­dent mem­ber de­spite re­main­ing a card­car­ry­ing Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive.

He told the Ed­mon­ton Jour­nal that go­ing solo over the past year was at once lib­er­at­ing and lonely.

“I’ve met some very good friends, ac­tu­ally, from within the Con­ser­va­tive ranks, and Con­ser­va­tive peo­ple,” he said.

“I re­ally feel sorry for those MLAs from Ed­mon­ton and Cal­gary who re­ally would like to speak out but feel too pres­sured not to.”

Boutilier was first elected to the leg­is­la­ture in 1997 and has held the mu­nic­i­pal af­fairs, en­vi­ron­ment, and in­ter­na­tional, in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal and abo­rig­i­nal re­la­tions port­fo­lios.

He would be the sec­ond of Klein’s cabi­net min­is­ters, af­ter Heather Forsyth, to join the Wil­drose Al­liance cau­cus.

Cam Han­tiuk, a spokesman for Stel­mach, said he wasn’t shocked by the news, since he has heard the same ru­mours as oth­ers around the leg­is­la­ture.

With files from Gra­ham Thom­son


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