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Right-wing tug-of-war for talent emerges

The rise of the Wildrose Alliance has created a tug-of-war over conservative talent in Alberta with some Tories, including members of the federal party, quietly moving over to the upstart rival.

The rise of the Wildrose Alliance has created a tug-of-war over conservative talent in Alberta with some Tories, including members of the federal party, quietly moving over to the upstart rival.

The federal Conservatives have warned MPs to stay out of provincial politics, but at least one — outspoken Calgary member Rob Anders — is willing to say he’s taken out a Wildrose membership.

And one of the most respected Tory strategists in the province, who has worked for both Premier Ed Stelmach’s party and the federal Conservatives, recently jumped ship.

“I think Alberta will vote for the most credible right-of-centre option,” Anders said. “I think the Wildrose Alliance is in a great position.”

Shayne Saskiw was the PC’s vice-president of policy until he recently defected to Wildrose. A lawyer by trade, Saskiw said he expects many alienated Tories will follow.

“My frustration had to do with the party essentially ignoring their membership,” he said. “That just goes back to a stale old party that hasn't been reinvigorated for many years.”

Wildrose has surged in public opinion polls since former journalist Danielle Smith became leader last fall and set about wooing Alberta’s right.