MP for Fort McMurray - Cold Lake David Yurdiga, who will not be running for his seat in the upcoming September election, has broken with his party in order to endorse a PPC candidate for his seat instead.
In a post on his official Facebook account, Yurdiga wrote the following message:
"It was so nice that Shawn McDonald and his wife Bonnie stopped by to thank Kathy and I for representing the community since 2014.
I consider Shawn an amazing friend and a businessman that always puts the community first.
Best wishes to Shawn McDonald in his quest to become the Member of Parliament for Fort McMurray - Cold Lake."
When asked for comment on whether this statement can be considered an endorsement, Yurdiga replied to TBT with this comment:
"This election is not about Ottawa politics, it's about the Charter of Rights and the Constitution. I will never support a vaccine passport or mandatory vaccines. Vote for your community, vote for freedom of speech and pray for a strong and free Canada."
The statement can be considered a tacit criticism of party leader Erin O'Toole, who hasn't taken a strong stance on the vaccination mandate issue.
“If the provinces make decisions on proof of vaccination, vaccine passports, we will support and respect what the provinces decide to do. It is their decision to try and balance off making sure people are safe,” O’Toole said.
The endorsement by Yurdiga should not be considered a surprise, particularly given his disagreement with both O'Toole and the controversy surrounding the CPC candidate running in his riding. Laila Goodridge's three years as an MLA in the Alberta legislature have not been without controversy. Back this spring, amid the expulsion of indigenous people from a homeless camp during record-freezing weather as allegations of systemic racism flew, Goodridge remained non-reactive and allegedly did not provide access to provincial resources for those affected by the removal of the camp.
Her tenure as a MLA also proved controversial in that her constituency association enthusiastically backed Premier Kenney's lockdown, despite the move being overall unpopular with her constituents: “Recognizing the difficult decisions that have been made over the past year and must continue be made in the months ahead during this prolonged public health emergency, that the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche UCP Constituency Association send a letter to Premier Kenney, his Cabinet, and the Provincial Board of the United Conservative Party, expressing their firm support of the Premier’s leadership in these challenging times.”