The Wildrose and PC parties say they will merge to form the United Conservative Party. Leaders Brian Jean and Jason Kenney have signed an agreement in principle.
Kenney believes a merger would ensure the defeat of the NDP in the next provincial election.
“So, to many Albertans who are struggling right now, this agreement sends them a clear message; that help is on the way and hope is on the horizon. This is a balanced, reasonable agreement that reflects main-stream Alberta values, that incorporates the principles of Progressive Conservatives, Wildrosers and like-minded Albertans.”
Jean says this is about doing what party members want.
“And that is to make sure that we remove the NDP government and to listen to them and to implement policies that they bring forward at our annual general meetings. Very much, this particular agreement reflects the foundation of Wildrose and, I believe, ultimately, the best interests of Albertans moving forward and that’s what this is all about.”
Jean thinks both would run for the leadership of the new party.
“Obviously, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t believe it was in the best interest of Albertans for democracy to truly have its way. You know, we’ll have to leave that for when the leadership race actually starts, but right now it’s about unity and why we’re here and the best interest of Albertans going forward.”
Kenney says he is confident the agreement reflects what he calls “core values of Progressive Conservatives.”
“There was a lot of give and take over the past seven weeks of negotiations. Our view was that we should defer as many decisions as possible on the new party to the members, so that they should decide democratically the future as opposed to a small group of people kind of hard-wiring it, adopting a constitution for example, at this stage.”
Kenney adds this merger did not look possible when he first brought up the idea.
“I truly believe that, if we vote-split our way into a second NDP term, they will change the political culture of this province, they will inflict lasting damage on it’s economy in ways that are difficult, if not impossible to reverse. This is a risk that we cannot take.”
Jean adds the merger is being done according to the legal framework set out by the Wildrose.
“We are incorporated under the Societies Act of Alberta, which gives our membership the most protection; a threshold of 75 percent to change constitutional issues, annual general meetings so members can make decisions. This is about being a participant in democracy and unification.”
If the merger is approved, a new leader would be picked October 28.