EDMONTON: *** Updated Story ***
In her second term as the Liberal MLA for Lethbridge-East (first elected November 22nd, 2004) Bridget Pastoor has crossed the floor to sit as a Tory.
Country 95 News caught up with Bridget in Edmonton, and asked her for an explanation. She stated, "I just felt that it was time for me to move on -- I just felt that it was time for me to bring my voice from the outside to the inside table, to help them make policy and to help go forward". Pastoor went on to say, "I'm trusting under Alison (Redford) there will be many changes and I want to be a part of that".
When asked if it was a difficult decision to make, Pastoor responded with a heavy sigh, "Oh yeah, oh yeah -- It took me a little while to actually take the step -- it was much more difficult than I ever thought". She was very emphatic, "It's got nothing to do with Raj (Sherman) or the Liberal caucus -- I have nothing but respect for them and it's not as if I'm leaving from something, I'm going to something".
Pastoor will be sitting in with the Tory caucus by mid week. She doesn't know where she'll end up in the government but, expects there will be lots for her to do. She speaks to constituents who voted her in as a Liberal by saying, "I'm hoping that they will realize that Bridget has not changed -- I will be doing exactly the same thing, I will be very committed to my seniors and to social services -- my office will continue to serve constituents as well as we ever have". Pastoor is adamant that "Nothing will really be changed -- I'm just going to be sitting at a different table".
At a news conference just before noon on Tuesday, Premier Alison Redford spoke about Pastoor's move and released the following statement:
"On behalf of all my caucus colleagues, it is with great pleasure that I welcome Bridget to the government caucus, said Premier Redford. Bridget is a decided and hard-working representative for her constituents who is focused on improving the lives of Albertans. I know she will continue her work in our caucus to find solutions to the challenges facing Alberta".
Meanwhile, local reaction to Pastoor's move is gathering fast. Country 95 News spoke to her daughter, Lethbridge Alderman Bridget Mearns, shortly after Monday's announcement.
"I'm really proud of her. She didn't make this decision lightly, it took a lot of time, a lot of though and a lot of guts," said Mearns. "She was an effective MLA for the constituents of Lethbridge East and she will remain an effective MLA for the constituents of Lethbridge-East."
From a political perspective, Lethbridge College political science teacher Dr. Faron Ellis says he's not surprised, considering the PC party's new liberalized slant under leader Alison Redford. But he adds the jury's still out on how voters will react.
"Voters tend to have considerable tolerance for this if it's a well-respected representative, and also if they are crossing to a party that will demonstrate some advantage," he said.
No word yet on how Pastoor's switch will affect plans for a PC nomination race in Lethbridge-East. Pastoor has scheduled a media conference in Lethbridge for Tuesday morning to offer more information on her decision.