Historic Conservative-Liberal merger “unites the centre-right” in Alberta
Edmonton Morning Star
January 16, 2012
In a move designed to stop a Wildrose Alliance victory in the imminent provincial general election, two long-time political foes have agreed to put aside their differences and form a “coalition of the centre-right.” At a press conference this morning, Progressive Conservative Premier Ed Stelmach and Liberal leader David Swann announced the formation of the electoral coalition.
“As difficult as it might be, we, uh, have decided to, um, work together for Alberta’s future,” said Stelmach. “Uh, the reality is that Alberta’s future will be brighter and stronger when, uh, we work together.”
Recent polling has shown Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Alliance with 35% support across Alberta. The PCs and Liberals have 36% combined support, which they argue will be enough to form government. The Liberals had initially hoped to negotiate electoral cooperation with the NDP and the resurgent Alberta Party, but they began talks with the Tories following the Wildrose Alliance victory in the hotly contested Calgary-Buffalo by-election to replace Liberal MLA Kent Hehr, who was elected Mayor in 2010.
Under the agreement the PC and Liberals will not challenge each others incumbent MLAs. Until the election and if re-elected, Stelmach has appointed Swann as Deputy Premier, former leader Kevin Taft as Minister of Health & Wellness, and Calgary MLA Harry Chase as Minister of Education.
Premier Stelmach told the media that the two parties will run on a five point platform that emphasizes good governance, the economy, the environment, safe communities, and an strong role for Alberta in Canada. Details will be released when the election is called.
“Just as the Liberal Conservative coalition has succeeded in the United Kingdom, Premier Stelmach and I intend to prove that it can work in Alberta,” said Swann. “We intend to protect Albertans from the new and scary Wildrose Alliance.”
Some Liberals were quick to rise up in arms in opposition to the merger, saying it will only drive voters to the NDP and Alberta Party.
Party organizers defended the decision. “Liberals overwhelmingly approved the idea of cooperation with other progressive parties at our last policy convention,” said a Liberal spokesperson. “Cooperation with the Progressive Conservatives will stop the vote splitting the new and scary Wildrose Alliance is depending on.”
Danielle Smith was unavailable for comment, but Wildrose Alliance strategists were quick to attack the announcement as a “merger of convenience.”
“It’s official, Stelmach is the new Trudeau,” boasted the Wildrose Communications Director.