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Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill MLA Karen McPherson unexpectedly announced on social media this morning that she was leaving the governing New Democratic Party caucus in order to sit as an Independent MLA. Elected in the Orange Wave that swept Alberta in 2015 McPherson has kept a relatively low profile in the Assembly while serving as chairperson of the Standing Committee on Private Bills.

In a statement that in parts sounded somewhat similar to what former UCP MLA Rick Fraser wrote last month when he announced he was sitting as an Independent MLA, McPherson wrote:

“Alberta, in fact the world, is changing quickly and I believe our political processes need to reflect these shifts. Continuing to do politics the way it’s being done will lead to further polarization. We are missing the middle where we have more in common with each other than we are different. Albertans need political choices that inspire them, not scare them.”

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MLA Karen McPherson bids farewell to the Alberta NDP | daveberta.ca – Alberta Politics

There were two political departures in Alberta yesterday, one that will probably be the subject of too much mainstream analysis, and the other that is unlikely to get enough.

The first was the departure from the NDP backbenches of Calgary MLA Karen McPherson to sit an Independent, which will probably get more ink than it deserves because it can be made to fit the prevailing media narrative of the fate and future of Premier Rachel Notley’s government.

The second was the departure of former Wildrose Party president Jeff Callaway from the contest to lead the United Conservative Party, which given the purpose of his candidacy in the first place probably warrants more study than it is likely to get.

Both are likely to spend only a little time on Alberta’s political radar.

At any rate, her decision to go was greeted with a surprising amount of empathy by some NDP MLAs, who seemed to respect her personal feelings even if they were not happy with her decision to quit.

Ms. McPherson didn’t exactly slam Ms. Notley’s government in her published note – “I wish nothing but the best for them” – but expressed her disquiet with the polarized state of Alberta’s provincial politics and gently criticized the government for not having a plan to eliminate the province’s deficit.

Whether such a plan involves the wholesale destruction of public services, as is apparently contemplated by the United Conservative Party, or recognition of the province’s continuing revenue problem in an era of low oil prices, this is a fair observation.

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Alberta PoliticsTwo departures