Wednesday, 21 June 2017 05:53

United Conservative Party will never be totally united

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When the Alberta NDP ‘crushed’ the right-dominant Alberta political landscape May 2015, many expected it be a one-hit wonder. It was a hard lesson for the Progressive Conservatives who got fat and sassy living off the laurels of Peter Lougheed and Ralph Klein.

“No problem,” the right said for a long time. “Just wait four years and out they go.”
Even for a little while, the staunchest of supporters would have admitted, the NDP didn’t look to be long for Alberta’s throne.
Now, with the amount of fractures, vote splitting and upset voters, if an election were to be called, the voter turn out would be ridiculously low.
These days, one can see Premier Rachel Notley allowing her cabinet ministers to address their own specific areas of governance and make announcements unless of course it has to do with petroleum or baby names.
As the day passes at the pronouncement of “Olivia” and “Liam” being once again the top baby names, Notley’s confidence and smile grows as the United Conservative Party — which hasn’t even been officially approved yet with the vote takes place July 22 amongst the PC and Wildrose membership — stumble and bumble like keystone cops.
The big meeting between PC leader Jason Kenney and Wildrose Leader Brian Jean has resulted in two things: a fractured Wildrose party and the now former PC president Katherine O’Neill quitting the party and leading a centrist movement called “Alberta Together.” That centrist movement may or may not include the Liberals or the Alberta Party.
The fractures from within are obvious beside the O’Neill resignation and subsequent Alberta Together launch.
Meanwhile Post Media is reporting the Wildrose Party rank and file members don’t like the fact the pact Kenney and Jean signed has a clause which would have the party’s interim joint board, policy and nomination committees be appointed by the Wildrose and PC leaders. According to the story, Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes says grassroots members don’t like this and personally hoped the development of this new party could have been slower with more rank and file support and input. Such was not the case with the Kenney/Jean summit.
While the PCs only need a majority, the Wildrose side requires 75 per cent to approve the merger.
So then what happens if the UCP vote fails, and Kenney and Jean can’t unite the right?
Well, it actually doesn’t matter because even if they do “unite” the two parties, the amount of fallout seems to be high already. There are going to be a lot of disenfranchised and disillusioned members from both right-wing parties.
Brooks Strathmore MLA Derek Fildebrandt, who hosted Kenney at the Brooks Rodeo parade and a Fildebrandt barbecue June 10, is considering a run for the leadership himself if the UCP vote goes through.
This is interesting because Kenney is calling for a thorough “protocol criteria” for future UCP candidates including a criminal check, one-on-one interviews and an apparent scanning of quoted comments and social media posts. Of course Fildebrandt was suspended by Jean for some controversy he found himself in the middle of on Twitter.
Confused? Exactly.
All of this has to get ironed out before the July 22 vote. This doesn’t even address the role, if any, the Alberta Party and Greg Clark plays.
If you’re a voter, where do you turn? Nobody is organized nor does it look like it’s getting organized any time soon with a lot of unknowns and potential hazards and hard feelings.
Orange crushed? Perhaps many NDP policies are not palatable for many, but the PCs, Wildrose, (possible UCP), Alberta Party, and the ironically named Alberta Together have a long way to go before anyone is in a position to down Notley.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor