It feels like “hurry up and wait”. On the left we have the governing NDP making good use of their time and stature holding meet and greets. We have the Alberta Liberal Party’s new leader David Khan who has begun an “87 constituency tour“, Jason Kenney on a similar path to garner support for Unite the Right and Brian Jean has been reaching out as well. Derek Fildebrandt has also stated he will join the race if the parties merge. The former Progressive Conservatives and Wildrose members will vote on unity July 22, 2017.
Meanwhile, the Unite the Centre initiative has enjoyed a publicity boost thanks to Katherine O’Neill, former President of the Progressive Conservative Party. O’Neill recently accepted the position of Director of Alberta Together, an organization that, according to their website was “started to help shape and support a growing fearless, focused and forward thinking centrist political voice” in Alberta. “It is a not-for-profit organization that puts public service, pragmatic centrist principles and province-building at the top of its agenda.”
Back in April, the first Unite the Centre meeting was held in Red Deer. People were invited based on the organizers’ knowledge of the invitees’ political leanings. Each of the invitees were asked to reach out to others within their communities to bring as many voices to the table as possible.
At that time Kerry Cundal was running for the leadership of the Alberta Liberal Party and though she did not speak on behalf of the party, she attended. Had she won the leadership, she would have known what these conversations were about and how or if her party could benefit from taking part.
The NDP’s connection with its federal party will continue to be a tough shadow to cast off. With the latest announcement from the federal NDP leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh that he and his party will oppose both Kinder Morgan and Energy East, the AB NDP are left holding a bag. As much as they would like to move centre, their federal counterparts seem intent upon making them look like Greens on steroids. Add to that the slim-to-none chance of Wildrose or Kenney’s party or the UCP quieting their socially conservative, death threat making, immigrant hating, refugee bashing, homophobic members to appeal to a centrist base… and you have just two parties in the centre.
As O’Neill said on Ryan Jespersen’s show last week, “there are two parties in the centre; the Liberals and the Alberta Party… what is the best option for 2019?” Greg Clark will be in the room but I believe David Khan is restricted to maintaining the status quo. Seems we’ll find out where the conversation leads on Saturday.
If you would like to be part of these discussions, or just want to have lunch and listen, tickets are available for the Alberta Together event on June 24, 2017. The event is scheduled to run from 11:00 am (registration opens at 9:30) until 3:00 pm at the Black Knight Inn in Red Deer.