Wildrose has high threshold to hit for party unification
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Wildrose has high threshold to hit for party unification

A Wildrose MLA says a plan to unify his party with the Progressive Conservatives could still be derailed by Wildrose members' uncertainty about the deal.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and PC Leader Jason Kenney announced on Thursday a tentative agreement to join together in a new "United Conservative Party."

To go forward, the deal needs to be ratified by members of both parties, with the Tories setting a threshold of 50 per cent plus one for approval.

Wildrose however requires 75 per cent support from its members at a special meeting for the UCP to go ahead.

Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes said he supports the unity plan at this point but he and many other Wildrose members will need to be sure when they vote on July 22 that the new party will carry on Wildrose's values and be truly conservative.

"Parts of this agreement, there's still a lot of work for Albertans and fiscally conservative Albertans to get involved and make sure the United Conservative Party comes out in the way it should," said Barnes, one of five Wildrose MLAs who stayed with the party during a mass floor-crossing to the then-PC government in 2014.

""I'm there, but I want to make sure that the next 60 days it stays on track. Albertans everywhere have told me they're in favour of conservative unity but they do not want to reinvent a wasteful, entitled PC party as they had become at the end of their tenure."

The PC dynasty governed Alberta for more than 40 years before the NDP's shock victory in the 2015 provincial election. Wildrose was founded nearly a decade ago by conservatives disgruntled by the Tory government's energy royalty review and big-spending ways.

Barnes, who finished second to Jean in the party's 2015 leadership race, said some areas of the agreement that are to be determined after the party is formed — such as the development of the new party's constitution and the nomination process for potential candidates — could prove to be a stumbling block for some Wildrose members.

Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt, a staunch proponent of the unity plan, acknowledged there are "skeptics" within the party that will need to be won over.

"If there's a yes side there will always be a no side," said the Strathmore-Brooks MLA.

"I certainly expect there will be some who disagree with this. I welcome that disagreement and I hope they'll make themselves heard and fully participate in the democratic process of this vote. But at the end of the day, I think the overwhelming majority of Wildrose members and voters understand this is the direction we need to go."

Fildebrandt said "people don't want a new united party to look like an old Progressive Conservative party" but he believes the UCP will retain the best of both Wildrose and the Tories.

He said the 75 per cent threshold is necessary given the importance of the decision facing Wildrose members.

"I would not recommend an agreement to our members I didn't believe could get 75 per cent," he said.


source : Calgary SUN
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