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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 6:19 am    Post subject: Alberta pc's and Wildrose announce Unity deal Reply with quote

( some big political news out of alberta yesterday )

Alberta PCs, Wildrose to form new entity called United Conservative Party

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, May 18, 2017 10:32AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 18, 2017 6:23PM EDT

EDMONTON -- Alberta's two conservative parties have taken the first step toward ending a decade of bitter feuding by signing a proposal to merge and become the United Conservative Party.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney announced the details of their unity deal Thursday at an Edmonton hotel.

The deal still has to be approved by 75 per cent of Wildrose members and just over 50 per cent of PC members. If it goes ahead, the new party will set up a leadership committee with an eye to electing a new leader on Oct. 28.

"The members will always be in the driver's seat," Jean said. "If approved by the membership, it would set us on a path to regain control of our province for now and for future generations."

Kenney said the proposed deal represents the reunification of a family that has been divided for too long. A united party, he said, would ensure the defeat of Premier Rachel Notley's NDP government.

"Hope is on the horizon," he said. "We are not seeking to impose an agreement but rather propose a way forward."

He spoke directly to PC members, some of whom have left the party in recent weeks, saying that they fear it's becoming less progressive and adopting a more socially conservative position.

Kenney himself fuelled those fears in late March when he said he favoured schools telling parents if their children joined a gay-straight alliance. Critics said telling parents could effectively "out" a child before they are ready and put them at risk.

"If this agreement is ratified, it's not the end of a proud legacy, but ... a fresh start and a new beginning," Kenney said.

Premier Rachel Notley said her party is focused on steering the province through the current downturn rather than making huge cuts to government programs, including health care and education, "to fund tax breaks for the top one per cent."

"That is not a path to recovery," she said at an announcement outside Calgary.

"I'm happy to have that debate with one right-wing party or 10 right-wing parties. It doesn't really matter. I'm confident that our choice to stand with Albertans is the right one."

Representatives from the Wildrose and PCs had been meeting since late March to hammer out an agreement.

Kenney won the PC party leadership on March 18 on a platform to merge. Both Kenney and Jean have said they'll run for the leadership of a consolidated party.

The plan is to have the parties vote on the deal by July 22.

A new party would move quickly to establish an executive and constituency boards in time for the next election which must be held in the spring of 2019. Notley has the option to call a vote earlier, but has stressed she plans to follow the law.

Political scientist Lori Williams said the question is whether the unified party can appeal to mainstream voters.

"Both of these leaders have a pretty major liability in that they are both social conservatives, and that's going to feed suspicions that this party is not going to be progressive," said Williams from Mount Royal University in Calgary.

"They'll just look like a new version of the Wildrose party."

Greg Clark, leader of and lone legislature member for the Alberta Party, said his party can be the new home for centrists.

"It's really important that we get it right in 2019, that we have a government that reflects modern Alberta values, that knows we can defend minority rights and balance the budget," he said.

The Wildrose emerged about a decade ago, founded by conservatives who felt alienated from then-premier Ed Stelmach's PC government.

The fortunes of both parties have since waxed and waned, usually at the other's expense.

Two PC members bolted to the Wildrose benches under Stelmach in early 2010, hastening his demise as leader a year later. In late 2014, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and most of her caucus crossed the floor to the government benches when Jim Prentice was Tory premier.

The move backfired. The Wildrose rallied under Jean to win 21 seats in the 2015 election and retain its status as official Opposition.

The PCs finished third with 10 seats. None of the Wildrose floor-crossers made it back to the house.

Prentice quit politics and the election loss led the party to a reappraisal of its mission and ultimately to the election of Kenney.


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 6:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wildrose-PC members to vote on new united party July 22

Emma Graney Emma Graney
More from Emma Graney

Published on: May 18, 2017 | Last Updated: May 18, 2017 6:50 PM MDT

For Brian Jean and Jason Kenney, the new United Conservative Party unveiled Thursday afternoon is about the very future of the province.

The Wildrose and Progressive Conservative leaders didn’t mince words as they stood together in an Edmonton hotel to lay bare the roadmap to a united right, using language more usual during an election campaign than at a joint news conference.

For Jean, the United Conservative Party will assure solid conservative governance in Alberta “for generations to come.”

Kenney said if members ratify the agreement July 22, it would “rebuild the promise of Alberta as a beacon of hope and opportunity.”

Both of them spoke of putting egos aside for the good of the province, Kenney calling the current NDP government “catastrophic.”

When asked about the unity plan Thursday morning, Premier Rachel Notley said the two opposition parties clearly agree on massive cuts to public services, tax breaks for the wealthy, and aren’t sympathetic to, or supportive of, LGBTQ rights.

“They’re a group moving increasingly to more and more extreme positions, to the point where they may fall right off the map,” Notley said.

“I guess if they do, now they’ll have company.”

Mending a broken family

Welding the Tories and Wildrose back together after a decade of fractious fighting is at the heart of the agreement.

Developing the plan took weeks of give and take on both sides; that the unity discussion group surpassed its self-imposed deadline speaks to the issues likely still to be ironed out if the agreement is ratified and the party moves to a policy convention.

It reflects what Jean called “the foundation of Wildrose,” while Kenney described it as “a renewal of democracy in Alberta.”

The founding principles of the new party include economic freedom, grassroots democracy, free individuals, limited government and a fair regulatory regime.

It also lists among its bedrock ideals compassion for the less fortunate through progressive social policies, universal healthcare, high-quality public education and environmental responsibility.

If Wildrosers and Progressive Conservatives vote to go with the unity plan, it will be up to them to massage those tenets further during the party’s first policy convention, earmarked for early 2018.

Kenney, Jean likely to pursue leadership

A vote to pick a party leader is pencilled in for Oct. 28, though Kenney was coy when asked if he will definitely run, saying he’ll wait until after the ratification vote.

Jean was happy to answer for both of them, saying neither of them would be peddling the unity agreement if they didn’t want to head up the charge.

Strathmore-Brooks Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt said Wednesday night he was considering throwing his hat into the leadership contest as well, and some are still kicking around the rumour that former federal Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose might wade into provincial politics.

“I’ve said from Day 1, I hope we attract a good number of talented Albertans offering public leadership,” Kenney said.

“If anybody else is chosen leader, they will have my total and enthusiastic support.”

Both Kenney and Jean acknowledged the timeline is tight, but said they’re up for the challenge.


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alberta's Wildrose, PCs agree to create new United Conservative Party

First leader of new party to be elected Oct. 28

By Michelle Bellefontaine, CBC Posted: May 18, 2017 9:45 AM MT| Last Updated: May 18, 2017 4:23 PM MT

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean looks on as PC Leader Jason Kenney talks Thursday at a news conference to announce an agreement in principle aimed at creating a new United Conservative Party.

Alberta's two conservative parties have struck a tentative deal to unite as the United Conservative Party.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney announced the proposed merger Thursday at a news conference in Edmonton.

"This is a great day, a historic day for Alberta," Kenney said. "Together we have decided to put our province ahead of our parties."

Jean urged Wildrose members to ratify the agreement to create the new party.

"It's about unifying conservatives," Jean said. "It cannot be based on a principle of gaining power for power's sake. It must be about more than that."

Jean and Kenney
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and PC Leader Jason Kenney shake hands after signing of an agreement in principle aimed at creating a new United Conservative Party. (Wildrose Party)

The date for members of both parties to vote on the agreement is July 22, with a new leader to be chosen Oct. 28. The new party would have its founding convention in early 2018.

An interim leader will be selected by caucus members of the PC and Wildrose parties as soon as possible after the agreement is ratified.

The nine-page agreement contains a number of founding principles, including support for free enterprise, grassroots democracy and "compassion for the less fortunate expressed through progressive social policies that help people become self-reliant, and ensure equality of opportunity."

'A fresh start'

Some members of the Progressive Conservative Party oppose a merger with the Wildrose Party, which they see as too socially conservative. Kenney said PC members who have doubts should come forward and share their views.

"If this agreement is ratified, this is not the end of a proud legacy but instead it is a fresh start and a new beginning," he said. "A chance to renew a political family which has been divided for the past decade."

If the deal is not ratified, the PC and Wildrose parties will work out a non-competition agreement in time for the next provincial election.

Both men said having conservatives united in a single party is crucial for defeating the NDP in the next election.

"This agreement ensures the defeat of this disastrous NDP government and the election of a free enterprise government that will renew the Alberta advantage," Kenney said.

Jean said getting a new party ready for the 2019 election will take a lot of work

"But it's worth it," he said. "This is about the future of Alberta, and generations of good government means we will have a good economy and a great quality of life."

Both Jean and Kenney have said previously that they would be interested in running to lead the new party.

When the question was put to him at Thursday's news conference, Kenney said he would say more once the deal is ratified.

"I'm going to defer that question until July 23rd, " Kenney said.

Jean's reply prompted laughter from the reporters, MLAs and political operatives in the tiny hotel conference room.

"Clearly we're both running for the leadership of this new party," he said.

'Extreme positions'

Earlier Thursday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley warned the new entity could offer Albertans extreme positions.

'They may fall right off the map. I guess if they do, they’ll have company'0:34

"Whether it's the Wildrose or the Tories, they clearly agree on things like making massive cuts to services in order to finance tax breaks for people at the top of the one per cent," Notley said Thursday at an announcement in Carstairs, 65 kilometres north of Calgary.

"They agree collectively on the fact that they're not particularly sympathetic or supportive of LGBT rights," the NDP premier added.

"They can't seem to agree that a school lunch program is a good thing, at least not with us can they agree.

"So, they're a group that are moving increasingly to more and more extreme positions, to the point where they may fall right off the map. I guess if they do, they'll have company."

In a news release, Greg Clark, leader of the Alberta Party, described the Wildrose/PC merger as a "hostile takeover.

"The stream of PC supporters who have been leaving will quickly become a flood as they come to understand it is no longer the party of Peter Lougheed, but a return to what Peter Lougheed fought against," Clark said, adding that Albertans "reject polarized politics."

The Wildrose has previously said it will need 75 per cent or more of its members to OK the deal, while the Progressive Conservatives say they will require a simple majority of 50 per cent plus one.

A group of representatives from both parties has been meeting for the last two months to hammer out a deal.

One of the issues both sides needed to discuss was what to do with the finances of their respective parties.

Money from the PC and Wildrose parties will not go to the new party.

The PCs are in debt. They will ask the constituency associations to contribute to their individual war chests.

The Wildrose will not forfeit any of its money to the Crown. Elections Alberta has provided the party with a list of legal ways to use the funds.

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Alberta pc's and Wildrose announce Unity deal

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