UCP: A Golden Opportunity
The backroom deal-making that wasn’t supposed to happen with a Wildrose PC merger seems to be exactly what was needed to bring the parties into agreement. Kenney had been persona non grata after the Gay-Straight Alliance media backlash in March but resurfaced in BC stumping for the Liberal party in April. As the BC election resulted in a reduction of Liberal seats to a tie with the NDP and created a shockingly powerful Green Party swing vote, it would appear his presence did more harm than good. One can only hope he finds similar success in the 2019 election.
Back in the public eye in Alberta, Jason Kenney’s highly anticipated and subsequently disappointing non-announcement on May 5, 2017 seemed to suggest there might not be enough agreement to build a unity plan after all. The Unity Discussion Group was formed a mere 6 weeks earlier with unity backers from the former PC party (and one person who declined to take part) and elected individuals from the Wildrose. There were rumblings that the discussions were not going well between the parties and that it was rooted in a general mistrust of the other side.
|Photo Credit: Terry Reith/CBC
Fast forward to May 18 where the unlikely future colleagues announced they have found a way forward to create the United Conservative Party, or UCP. While there may have been some hard work on behalf of the discussion group, it sounds as if it was Brian Jean who needed the final nudge. Nine of his MLAs reportedly confronted him and said they would cross the floor to join the Kenney-led PC’s, making them the official opposition, unless he accepted the agreement.
However they managed it, there is finally some movement for the two parties who would like to blend together into one slightly larger Wildrose party with Wildrose values, policies and, the big win, some former PC supporters. If that doesn’t cause you to swoon, Alberta will be treated to yet another leadership race involving Jason Kenney this year as the parties have agreed to hold the leadership election on October 28, 2017.
While the parties have made a small move in the “right” direction, hundreds, perhaps even thousands of current members are still going to have to vote for unity. The former PCs require 51% of their membership to approve the agreement and the Wildrose needs 75. Add to this the simultaneous messaging of the Wildrose members being promised their party, policies and values will remain, and the former PCs are being promised they will defeat Notley’s government. So, win/win… I guess?
There’s still hope; if Kenney has taught us anything since entering Alberta politics it’s that anyone can buy a membership and vote; even (especially?) if you don’t support the party.
We all have an idea of what would happen if they unite but what if the current or future membership did not support unity? Kenney appeals to a faction of the Wildrose base so they could continue to bleed votes without a unity agreement. Kenney has a well-known track record of not supporting human rights for all and is an easy target on the subject. Did I mention that anyone can buy a membership and vote for what they believe will be the best outcome for the people of this province? Members must be registered 21 days prior to voting. Just saying.