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

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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.

egraney@postmedia.com

twitter.com/EmmaLGraney

TIMELINE:

The Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose have released a plan to unite under the new United Conservative Party, pending a ratification vote from members.

Here is our timeline on the conservative schism in Alberta.

Aug. 30, 1971: Progressive Conservatives win their first majority government. They will hold power in Alberta for nearly 44 years.

June 23, 2007: Wildrose Party formed in Red Deer as a reaction against existing political parties members say they won’t restrain provincial spending or challenge Ottawa. They believe Alberta Alliance won’t be able to effectively challenge the Ed Stelmach PC government.

Jan. 19, 2008: Wildrose Party of Alberta merges with Alberta Alliance Party to form the Wildrose Alliance Party.

Sept. 14, 2009: Wildrose Leader Paul Hinman captures Calgary-Glenmore in a byelection. Support for the party rises in 2009 as voters become frustrated with the PC government.

Oct. 17, 2009: Danielle Smith is elected leader of the Wildrose Party.

Jan. 4, 2010: Frustrated with Stelmach’s leadership, which they brand undemocratic, PC MLAs Rob Anderson and Heather Forsyth cross the floor to join Wildrose. This doubles the number of Wildrose caucus members to four.

April 2012: The election sees the Wildrose Party securing 17 seats, forming the official Opposition.

March 23, 2014: Alison Redford resigns as premier. Jim Prentice wins the next PC leadership race and takes control of the party.

Nov. 3, 2014: Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin quits the Wildrose caucus to sit as an Independent.

Nov. 24, 2014: Wildrose MLAs Kerry Towle and Ian Donovan cross the floor to join the ruling PC caucus.

Dec. 17, 2014: Smith and eight other Wildrose MLAs — Rob Anderson, Gary Bikman, Rod Fox, Jason Hale, Bruce McAllister, Blake Pedersen, Bruce Rowe and Jeff Wilson — cross the floor to the PCs. Smith gives Prentice’s strong leadership and shared values as the reason. Five Wildrose MLAs are left.

March 28, 2015: Brian Jean becomes Wildrose leader. Prentice calls an election five days later.

May 5, 2015: The NDP sweeps to power in the provincial election, winning 54 seats to form a majority government. Wildrose becomes the official Opposition with 21 seats. The PCs are decimated, holding on to just nine of its 70 seats. Ric McIver becomes interim leader after Prentice resigns.

Dec. 14, 2015: Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt and PC MLA Mike Ellis hold a joint beer night in Calgary to talk about conservative unity.

May 7, 2016: Party members at the PC AGM vote to change the process to elect a new leader from one member one vote, to a delegate system.

June, 2016: Rumours swirl that Calgary-Mindapor MP Jason Kenney will resign his seat in Ottawa to join the PC leadership race.

July 7, 2016: Kenney confirms his plans to leave the House of Commons, and unveils his five-step plan to unite Alberta conservatives under a single banner in time for the next provincial election.

Oct. 1, 2016: PC leadership race officially begins. Kenney, Richard Starke, Byron Nelson, Donna Kennedy-Glans, Sandra Jansen and Stephen Khan all announced their intention to run.

Nov. 8, 2016: Jansen and Kennedy-Glans withdraw from the race. Kennedy-Glans cites the polarizing nature of Alberta politics and harassment of Jansen at the party’s Nov. 5 to 7 policy convention.

Nov. 17, 2016: PC MLAs Sandra Jansen crosses the floor to the NDP, saying the PC party is no longer the place for centrist politics.

Jan. 26, 2017: Khan withdraws from PC leadership race and throws his support behind Starke. Starke announces he will pursue a PC-Wildrose coalition if elected as leader. Jean announces he supports a merger plan if Wildrose party members agree to it.

March 18, 2017: Kenney is elected PC leader with more than 75 per cent of delegate votes, reaffirming his vow to unite with Wildrose and create a single, big-tent conservative party. Jean and Kenney meet two days later.

March 24, 2017: PC and Wildrose announce the names of their respective discussion teams as they take the first steps toward unity.

May 5, 2017: Kenney says despite the delay on a plan, unification talks are going well.

May 17, 2017: Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt and PC MLAs Mike Ellis and Prab Gill have a joint townhall to talk about unity, saying an agreement is extremely close. Fildebrandt says he is considering running for leader of the new party.

May 18, 2017: Unity agreement details are released.

egraney@postmedia.com

twitter.com/EmmaLGraney


Source: einnews.com