Alberta on cusp of agreement to unite Wildrose, Tories, MLAs tell Leduc audience
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Alberta on cusp of agreement to unite Wildrose, Tories, MLAs tell Leduc audience

Leduc — Alberta is on the cusp of seeing a united conservative political force, believes Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt, and he hasn’t ruled out running as its leader.

 
At a Wednesday night event in Leduc billed as a "Unite the Right town hall," about 50 conservatives gathered in the Maclab Centre for Performing Arts, determined to know exactly where plans to bring them together stand.
 
Fildebrandt stood with Progressive Conservative MLAs Mike Ellis and Prab Gill, taking questions about a united party and how it might work.
 
Building unity
 
Ellis and Fildebrandt have taken the stage to peddle unity before.
 
The two shook hands over a beer not long after the 2015 election, with a promise to try to find a way to avoid fighting one another in the next election.
 
At a Calgary beer hall not long after, they drew 200 people to hear them speak about the idea.
 
Unity continued to gather steam, culminating in Jason Kenny winning the Tory leadership earlier this year with his plan.
 
But the movement has been quiet of late.
 
Kenney and Wildrose Leader Brian Jean are both hesitant to negotiate in public, and the unity discussion group has passed its self-imposed deadline to hammer out a plan to merge Alberta conservatives.
 
Yet Ellis, Fildebrandt and Gill all spoke optimistically about unity Wednesday night, saying the only major issue that has divided their parties of late is recall legislation.
 
"There are differences, but there are differences within the Wildrose caucus and the PC caucus — and that's a good thing. But we're all grounded in conservative principles," Fildebrandt said.
 
As for how close Alberta is to seeing a unity plan, all three said it's soon — very soon.
 
And if the NDP calls a snap election, Ellis added, both parties have contingency plans in place.
 
As about his leadership aspirations in a united party, Fildebrandt refused to answer "Yes" or "No," saying only, "To be determined."
 
Fundraising questions
 
Sponsorship of the town hall drew the ire of the NDP, with provincial party secretary Roari Richardson writing to Elections Alberta about possible corporate sponsorship.
 
Promotional posters for the event listed a Leduc business as the evening's sponsor, and the local Wildrose constituency association said on Facebook a business had paid for the venue.
 
Both are illegal under Bill 1, which banned corporate and union donations to political parties.
 
When asked about the apparent conflict Wednesday afternoon, Jean said he would look into it.
 
egraney@postmedia.com
 
twitter.com/EmmaLGraney
source : Calgary SUN
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