A longtime friend and ally of Brent Rathgeber has resigned from the executive of the local Tory riding association as a gesture of solidarity with the now independent MP.
Doug Elniski left the board of the Edmonton-St. Albert Conservative Association last week after Rathgeber quit the Conservative caucus in a protest against the actions of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the federal government.
Elniski said he resigned to support his friend and to object the lack of transparency in the Prime Minister’s Office.
“It’s a good opportunity to leave (the board) now and I stick with my friend,” he said.
“I am quite choked (the Conservative government) did not support his position.”
Rathgeber quit after members of his party pushed changes to his private member’s bill, C-461, calling for the disclosure upon request of any public sector salaries with earnings of approximately $188,000 or more. That bar is now raised to roughly $444,000.
Elniski said he’s been a friend of Rathgeber’s for years and had in fact joined the constituency association to support him.
Both men ran for MLA in Edmonton-Calder, Rathgeber in 2004 and Elniski in 2008. Rathgeber lost to NDP competitor David Eggen while Elniski defeated Eggen in 2008. He did not run for re-election in 2012 and joined the board to aid his friend.
“My loyalty to him was pretty well accepted,” he said.
In a statement last Friday, the local Conservative Association reaffirmed its support of the Conservative Party of Canada and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Its president, Darren Bieganek, told the Gazette that the board was disappointed that Rathgeber had resigned from his caucus position and will not prepare for the next election. He added that several board members are close friends of Rathgeber’s and would now have a difficult decision to make.
Elniski said he does not know if anyone else will resign from the board. But it’s understandable that some members were disappointed, he said.
“It puts (the association) in a tough spot and they are there to support the party,” he said.
He added that the association’s boundaries will be re-drawn in the future due to population growth, creating separate boards for Edmonton and St. Albert.
Had Rathgeber stayed with the Tories, Elniski said he would have probably supported the new candidate of his board in Edmonton-Griesbach.
But for now he said he decided the Conservative government “needed to take a serious look at their policies.”