Alberta Politics

Wildrose demands transparency from NDP and PCs but holds its annual meeting in secret

Alberta’s conservative Wildrose Party is holding its annual general meeting this weekend in Calgary and, according to one media source, the event will be closed to the media with the exception of leader Brian Jean‘s speech ahead of the leadership review vote on the evening of Nov 13, 2015.

It feels like an eternity in Alberta politics since the Wildrose Party’s last annual meeting in Nov. 2014, which saw then-leader Danielle Smith clash with the party’s social conservative base over support for sexual minority rights. Wildrose members at the open door meeting voted down a definitive statement on equal rights for all Albertans, destroying the party’s attempt to appear more mainstream on social issues.

Now, the Wildrose Party led by Mr. Jean will spend its first annual meeting after its spectacular return from the dead debating policy and politics behind closed doors.

Wildrose members will debate motions ranging from equalization paymentspublic sector pensions, ending mandatory membership in students’ unions, increasing access to firearms, abolishing the Canadian Senate, and allowing private enterprise to receive government grants to compete against public essential services.

Members will also debate a series of motions aimed at banning MLAs from crossing the floor to another party, an issue that nearly destroyed the party when 13 of its MLAs crossed the floor to join the Progressive Conservatives in the final months of 2014.

This type of anti-floor crossing policy could prove difficult to enforce, as it is against the spirit of the Westminster parliamentary system and idea of responsible government. Wildrose members should also note that none of the floor-crossers were re-elected in this year’s general election, providing some evidence that elements of our system of democracy worked without unneeded tinkering.

The closed door meeting could help hide controversial comments or embarrassing eruptions that regularily happen when political party members line up to speak at the microphone.

Rumours have circulated for months about a group of party members who still harbour bad feelings from the party’s March 28, 2015 leadership race and could create trouble for Mr. Jean at this annual meeting. The leadership vote, which Mr. Jean won with 54 percent to Drew Barnes’ 40 percent, was held days before the provincial election was called.

An internal investigation was launched amid allegations of illegal robocalls and the party imposed a $15,000 fine against Mr. Barnes’ campaign. The message in the robocalls allegedly attacked Mr. Jean for his $10,000 donation to Jim Prentice‘s PC leadership campaign only months before he entered the Wildrose Party leadership race.

Mr. Jean is now carefully manufacturing his pitch to convince members of the former governing PC Party to join his party’s ranks. Later in November, the Wildrose Party is hosting a “conversation” fundraiser in Calgary where Mr. Jean will make his pitch to conservatives to unite behind his party against the NDP. Any embarrassing or divisive fights at this meeting could derails those attempts.

Wildrose MLAs have eclipsed the tiny PC opposition in media attention while relentlessly hammering almost every decision made by Rachel Notley‘s NDP since they won the May 2015 election. But recently Wildrose MLAs have found themselves tied up in an embarrassing missteps including fighting a new 9:00 a.m. start time for the Legislature and a very public dispute with a Globe & Mail reporter.

Partisan debates about policy can be divisive and messy, but it is hypocritical for Wildrose Party MLAs to lambast the NDP for failing to be transparent and the PCs for being secretive and entitled while holding their own policy meetings behind closed doors.

If Mr. Jean’s Wildrose Party truly wants to prove it is ready to govern and represent mainstream Alberta, they should demonstrate it by giving Albertans a view into how their grassroots members really believe our province should be governed.

11 replies on “Wildrose demands transparency from NDP and PCs but holds its annual meeting in secret”

It’s scary that the Wildrose party is the last Conservative party left standing. I voted PC in the last election and might have to vote NDP to block these looney socons next time.

Wasn’t BJ a Harper Conservative? This is learned behavior. Shut the media out and dupe the public with fake promises.

Oh, boy. Nothing fresh in that list of policy planks, just the same old bunker enemies and negative outlook. I can appreciate Wildrose’s desire to have a real policy discussion without debaters feeling intimidated by the presence of the press, but, as the article notes, Wildrose has been throwing stones at glass houses and expecting no one to notice.

” Friday the 13th” at Elections Alberta where is the PC documentation ?
The Wildrose might want to sweep the Grassroots for Bugs like smart phones and tablets before the AGM.

OMG! The NDP& PC’s hold these secret meetings too where you have to be a member or you can’t attend their AGM! give your heads a shake people & stop the fear mongering! An AGM is for members. …if you wanna go buy a bloody membership!!!!
Abd if the meeting is sooooo secret how’d you find out about it! It’s scary how unintelligibl some of these comments sound, real scary!

Betty, the NDP and PC’s don’t hold these secret meetings, theirs are open to the media as well as to other parties who wish to act as scrutineers.

Obviously AGM dates are advertised, banning media from them is not standard practice for parties I afraid to have their actions reported on.

Could someone get rid of Vitor and his minions like Bewick and Johnson. The incompetent fools wanted closed door meetings and with their fingerpuppets on the executive had the lake of fire fool approved. Everyone but Vitor new he was an idiot.

Vitor presently needs Brian Jean because the PCS didn’t want him and neither do so many former wildrose rs waiting for a different option. Hence the bulls it sandbag of Barnes by the inept vitor it executive.

Anyways if th AH leave we will see.

They need their safe space. I think you’re committing a microaggression by questioning their need for one.

(It’s interesting to note that on Twitter Dave Beninger already leaps on one member’s superlative at the mic and twists it to be absolute Wildrose policy)

I was at the meeting. Maximum 300 people, largely old white rural guys. The Wildrose can’t govern and I totally see the PC’s coming and taking them over.

While I was no fan of Danielle Smith, I have to admit she seemed to have a real commitment to having open discussion and debate in her party. Brian Jean seems to prefer the more secretive Harper style.

However, I am not sure that a few bozzo eruptions are the thing the Wildrose should worry about most. If the party had shown that on the whole they were willing to be more tolerant (Danielle actually gave them that chance and they blew it), voters might have been willing to be more tolerant of them too. It wasn’t just a few bozzo’s that did them in.

Now the Wildrose is a shadow of its former self, even more concentrated in the rural old white rump. The Progressive Conservatives may be in a very bad position now, but over time people may forgive and forget some of their sins, especially if Wildrose continues to be lacklustre.

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