Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards is out as the chief opposition whip for the federal Conservative Party.
Richards, the five-time MP, was removed from the role on Friday (Feb. 4) in a shakeup of the federal Conservative Party’s leadership team following the removal of Erin O’Toole as its leader.
Interim leader Candice Bergen, who served as deputy leader under O’Toole and is an MP from Manitoba, made the move two days after O’Toole’s ouster.
The Outlook has reached out to Richards and will update the story if we hear from him.
The role of the party whip is ensuring there is discipline among the members of caucus and that there are adequate numbers of party members when a vote is called. The person also assigns offices, schedules speakers for bills, motions and House of Commons proceedings.
Richards held the role from Sept. 2, 2020 to Feb. 5, 2022.
Richards was removed along with Quebec MP Gerard Deltell, Ontario MP Michael Barrett and Manitoba MP James Bezan.
Alberta MP Blaine Calkins from the Red Deer-Lacombe riding will assume the role of chief opposition whip.
Richards is continuing to serve as one of nine members of the board of internal economy.
Since being elected in the 2008 federal election, Richards has dominantly won the riding, never achieving less than 57 per cent of the vote.
The riding has long been one of the safest for the Conservative Party and has been a party stronghold since the Canadian Alliance won the riding in 2000.
The Banff-Airdrie riding is one of the more unique in Alberta since it features primarily left-leaning communities in Canmore and Banff and more conservative areas in Cochrane and Airdrie.
The region encompasses about 12,500 square kilometres and has issues from tourism and the environment to industrial and manufacturing needs.
“I’ve had the opportunity to focus very heavily, just even with the roles I’ve had both in government and opposition to focus on our tourism industry, but also keep the other interests of oil and gas and other industries in mind and getting people back to work,” Richards said the day after the 2021 federal election.
“It’s trying to make sure you juggle the different balls and make sure that you’re communicating with all parts of the riding, so you can ensure you’re on top of the issues that are important to people.