As prospects of a merger of Alberta’s two estranged conservative parties appear more and more unlikely, Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean has suggested that his party may consider rebranding with a name change before the 2019 election.
Postmedia has reported that Mr. Jean’s party has registered the names Alberta Conservative Party Association and Conservative Party of Alberta Association with the province’s societies registrar.
While these names could help the Wildrose Party further align with the Conservative Party of Canada in the eyes of Albertans, there is a possibility the name change could be denied by the Chief Elections Officer because the new name could likely be confused with the other conservative party, the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta.
Section 7 (3.1) of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act states that:
If a registered party changes its name, the Chief Electoral Officer shall not vary the register accordingly if, in the Chief Electoral Officer’s opinion,
(a) the proposed name or the abbreviation of the name so nearly resembles the name or abbreviation of the name of a registered party as to be likely to be confused with the name or abbreviation of that registered party,
(b) the proposed name was the name of a registered party whose registration was cancelled or whose name was changed since the last general election, or
(c) the proposed name or abbreviation is unacceptable to the Chief Electoral Officer for any other reason.
Barring the dissolution of the current PC Party, it might be unlikely that a separate Conservative Party would be allowed to register with Elections Alberta.
The PC Party was officially registered as the Provincial Conservative Association of Alberta until when it added “Progressive” to its name in 1959, to conform with a similar change made by the federal party in 1942.
The Wildrose Party was known as the Alberta Alliance Party (a nod to the Canadian Alliance) from 2002 until 2008 when it became the Wildrose Alliance Party after merging with a group of disgruntled Alberta Alliance members who had formed the Wildrose Party of Alberta in 2007 (the first version of the Wildrose Party was never officially registered with Elections Alberta). According to Elections Alberta, the party’s name was formally changed to the Wildrose Party effective February 3, 2015.