EDMONTON – Alberta’s two conservative political leaders are not impressed by a convention that voted to look at forming a third right-centre party.
Brian Jean, leader of the Opposition Wildrose, says another party would only further fracture the movement.
“We want to see the conservative family come back, and we think the only reasonable option to form government in the next election is obviously the Wildrose party,” Jean said Monday.
“We think the formation of a third party is not helpful at all. It’s more difficult to get to one from three than it is from two.”
Ric McIver, interim leader for the Progressive Conservatives, said he wants more information about the weekend vote in Red Deer by about 400 right-centre supporters at an event titled “Alberta Can’t Wait.”
They want to form an unincorporated corporation to provide a “united alternative” to Premier Rachel Notley and her NDP government.
McIver agreed that on first glance the math doesn’t add up.
“If I was going to unite the right, I’m not sure I would be doing it by creating more parties on the right,” he said.
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Various parties have been urging for some kind of reconciliation between the Wildrose and the PCs following last May’s election, in which the NDP won a majority government for the first time in Alberta history.
The linchpin to the victory was an historic breakthrough in Calgary where the party won 15 seats, but in 14 of those constituencies the combined totals of the Wildrose and PC candidates outpolled the NDP. That sparked speculation that consolidation on the right could reap political gain.
Some conservative commentators have said a united right is the only way to stop what they term economy-killing NDP initiatives that included higher taxes, a higher minimum wage and a carbon tax.
McIver said he expects the unite-the-right issue will come up this weekend in Red Deer when the Tories hold their first annual general meeting since their May 5 election loss.
“There’s nothing on the agenda, but there is some time when our members will get to go to the microphone and speak about what they want to speak about,” he said.
“A lot of people, and I’m one of them, wouldn’t be surprised if some of our members raised the future direction of conservative politics in Alberta, which I think is very important.
“Anything can happen.”