The leaders of both the Alberta PC and Wildrose parties were in Grande Prairie last night, campaigning for their proposed merger deal. Jason Kenney and Brian Jean took the packed room at the Pomeroy Hotel through the agreement they reached, and answered questions on everything from how members will be able to vote to youth involvement and how the united party could stop another conservative party from popping up and splitting the vote.
The former president of the Progressive Conservative party recently formed a political action committee focused on shaping a centrist alternative ahead of the next election. Kenney argues the new “United Conservative Party” is still a better option to defeat the NDP, pointing out that 60 per cent of Albertans voted for the Conservative Party of Canada in the 2015 federal election.
“I think that tells us there is a super majority of Albertans whose basic political values are free-enterprise or conservative, and we’re just trying to reassemble that coalition provincially. If there’s people who like Justin Trudeau’s politics and they want to play that out provincially, they’re more than welcome to do so.”
Members of both parties will vote on the merger deal on July 22nd. It requires 75 per cent approval by Wildrose members and 50 per cent plus one of the Tories.
At Tuesday night’s town hall, supporters were encouraged to buy memberships in both parties to better ensure approval. If given the green light, Kenney says he hopes that anyone who voted against the merger deal will stay involved in the new party.
“To make the argument for your vision or policies at the founding convention through the policy development process. We’re not trying to create a narrow, rigid idealogical party; we’re trying to create a big tent coalition. We need some real diversity of opinion.”
If the united party is successful in forming, both Kenney and Jean have said they would run for leadership. Jean adds he has committed to repealing the carbon tax and challenging Justin Trudeau if Ottawa imposes a price on greenhouse gas emissions.
“He’s been clear that he will leave the carbon tax revenues in the province of Alberta, and if we have that $5 billion, which is $2,500 per family, we have to make sure that we mitigate the pain that the federal carbon tax is going to cause. That means we have to lower property taxes, lower income taxes.”
If the merger deal falls through, both parties will come up with a non-competition agreement ahead of the next provincial election. Jean says he’s confident the Wildrose Party could still win.
“I think we have been the number one choice of Albertans over the past two years, but it’s not just about the next election; it has to be about more than that. It has to be about forming something new, something vibrant, something that respects the people and listens to them and puts them in charge.”
Albertans have until July 8th to purchase a Wildrose membership, and July 15th to become a member of the PC Party and vote. Both parties expect to have online voting available, along with ballot stations in communities across the province.