Alberta Politics

Two weeks until decision day for Conservatives in Alberta

On July 6, 2016, Jason Kenney officially launched his campaign to capture the leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives and lead them into a merger with the right-wing Wildrose Party. After 19-years as an Ottawa politician, Kenney was easily able to stage a hostile take-over the broken and battered former governing party.

One year later, Kenney is campaigning to convince PC and Wildrose members to approve the creation of a new party in a July 22 vote, while also campaigning for the leadership of the yet-to-be created United Conservative Party (whether Conservatives are actually more united now is a completely different question).

A vote of 50 percent plus one is needed from PC Party members to approve the deal, but a steeper 75 percent support vote is needed from Wildrose Party members to fulfill their end of the agreement.

As has been pointed out before, it is expected that many conservative activists will purchase memberships in both the PC and Wildrose parties in order to vote twice on July 22.

Some Wildrosers are nervous that the three-quarters support could be hard to achieve.

On most days it can be hard to get 75 percent of Wildrose members to agree what day of the week it is,” one former Wildrose Party member told me, referring to the raucous reputation and anti-establishment tendencies of the party’s membership. But with the political careers of so many prominent Conservative politicians tied to the success of the July 22 vote, it is hard to believe it would be allowed to fail.

But just in case, a Plan B might be needed.

Rona Ambrose
Rona Ambrose

Four candidates have officially declared their interest in running for the leadership of the new United Conservative Party, when and if it is actually formed: Kenney, Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean, Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer and Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt.

Both Jean and Kenney have essentially been using their parties as vehicles to promote their leadership campaigns while also setting up separate political action committees. Fildebrandt has created United Liberty PAC and his leadership bid appears to be at least partly inspired by the strong showing by Maxime Bernier in Alberta during the recent federal Conservative leadership race.

It may just be wishful thinking by some conservatives, but speculation continues that former federal Official Opposition leader Rona Ambrose could enter the race. Ambrose recently resigned her seat in Parliament and is expected to begin a new role in Washington D.C. She, along with a crowd of Conservatives MPs, also endorsed Kenney after he announced his bid for the PC leadership a year ago.

Another Wildrose Bozo-Eruption

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau travelled to Hamburg, Germany to meet with world leaders at the G20 summit, some conservatives are angry he is not instead attending the Calgary Stampede.

Wildrose MLA Rick Strankman, who has represented Drumheller-Stettler since 2012, posted a tweet on July 4, 2017 which appeared to accuse Trudeau of being a “Gutless puke” for not attending the Stampede (see the screenshot).

The tweet was deleted moments after it was posted.

3 replies on “Two weeks until decision day for Conservatives in Alberta”

Call me out of the loop, but it appears from numerous media reports that there apparently is deep concern the Wildrose benchmark of 75% approval for the merger is in doubt.

Recently, Jason Kenney told a sparse crowd (that should also be a bellwether for failure) at a town hall meeting that this unite-the-right vote “is do or die.” Additionally, Kenney is encouraging members of the Wildrose and PC parties to consider voting twice by purchasing party membership in both the PC Party and the Wildrose Party — a practice unheard of elsewhere. And, if that isn’t cause for concern about the results of the potential vote, Kenney is suggesting they may have to revisit the 75% threshold for the vote if the results are unfavourable, suggesting a no vote might need a closer look before determining whether the unity push has failed.

During the recent PC leadership campaign bozo-eruptions were plentiful and occurred on an almost daily basis. Recent developments would suggest conservative unite-the-right supporters are headed in the same direction for more of those unwelcome eruptions. But I’m out of the loop, so what do I really know.

I think being independent minded and being allowed to speak is an important part of the Wildrose culture. I believe that Kenney who comes from the Harper world of total message control and the PC’s do not see any merit in it. I think many Wildrose members realize that if they unite with the PC’s that would be one thing that would quickly change if they did unite.

Personally, I seem some merit to giving MLA’s more independence to speak although I don’t agree with this Wildrose MLA’s comment. I would rather have an MLA be able to prove they are a bozo, or perhaps the opposite, instead of only having a strong suspicion about their lack of intelligence because they are as silent as a potted plant or only repeat approved talking points like a robot. The issue of bozo eruptions is a convenient way for some conservatives to justify silencing any dissenting opinions or ideas.

I know it must give party leaders (especially the most power hungry ones) a fit when their MLA’s say or do silly things . However, rather than silence them and pretend there are no bozo’s, I think the party needs to make an effort not to pick bozo’s as their candidates.

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