Wildrose leader Brian Jean is blunt this morning at Calgary’s Blackfoot Diner even though his breakfast eggs are perfectly sunny side up.
He says from now until July 22 is not going to be easy. When asked if he thinks 75% of Wildrosers would thumbs-up uniting with the PCs into one conservative party today he’s “not confident.”
That’s the percentage needed from Wildrosers in a July 22 vote if unity is to go ahead.
Jean’s got two months. The work starts now.
“Some people are not prepared to forgive and forget,” admits the Wildrose leader.
He has something to say to them.
“Forget about it. Move past it. If I’m prepared to put up my leadership, they should park the other stuff at the door.
“It’s their feelings, their feelings of resentment. But look at how the NDP has destroyed our province. Look at what they’re doing to it.
“The issues are too big to focus on the past. This is too important. Look to the future.
“Everybody’s had struggles. Sometimes the best thing to do is move on.”
He points to the founding principles of the United Conservatives.
The ability to boot out unworthy politicians between elections. The protection of property rights. Fiscal responsibility. School choice. Limited government.
Jean says many Wildrosers believe they can go it alone in the next ballot battle and win. He agrees.
“We can. I have no doubt we’d win the next election.”
But, says Jean, after that victory there would be more battles with the PCs, still two warring conservative parties.
Where could that lead?
“This is about making sure we have one united conservative party under the right principles.”
Jason Kenney, the PC leader, drops the gloves against the common political foe.
He knows the existence of one united conservative party is driving lefties right up the wall.
Some are already painting the idea as very scary.
They’ve played the fear card before and it worked.
“This is becoming pathetic and laughable,” says Kenney.
“As conservatives come together, the left-wing anger machine is going to spin out of control. They’ve already called us sewer rats and xenophobes and say they want to kick our teeth in.
“The angrier and louder and more outrageous the attacks are, the less credible they will be.
“In a way, I’m happy they are already beginning to foam at the mouth.”
“I can understand why they’re getting hysterical. I would encourage them to maintain that level of hysteria because it’s only going to drive more people to fire these clowns in the next election.”
Looks like there’s a fight breaking out.
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Kenney says nothing in the unity agreement is out-of-step with the mainstream of Alberta or Progressive Conservatives.
High-quality publicly funded education. Compassion for the less fortunate through progressive social policies. Universal access to publicly funded health care.
The PC leader believes in the fullness of time there will be a thumbs-up to unity from both parties.
He has something to say to PC-hating Wildrosers and Wildrose-hating PCers.
To the first group …
“Please take yes for an answer. I was upset with the cronyism and arrogance of PC governments. I’m not apologizing for that. That’s why I’m proposing a fresh start,” says Kenney.
“If they have these concerns they should realize Alison Redford and Thomas Lukaszuk and Sandra Jansen are not involved. They left. So take yes for an answer.”
As everyone knows, Redford was the PC premier run out of office.
Lukaszuk served as a cabinet minister and deputy premier in the Redford government.
Jansen also came in with Redford’s 2012 election victory but last year crossed the floor to join the NDP.
To the second group, those who think Wildrosers and Tories are just too far apart to be together …
“Wildrosers aren’t people who landed here from outer space. They’re just Progressive Conservatives who were voters and members of the same party for the better part of four decades,” says Kenney.
The former Harper cabinet minister, reminds us when the Canadian Alliance and the federal PCs inked a deal to become the Conservative Party of Canada, you heard a lot of opposition.
At the end of the day, both parties gave unity a huge yes.
“Momentum is a very powerful thing,” says Kenney.