Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS United Conservative Party interim leader Nathan Cooper speaks to media after the first meeting the new United Conservative Party caucus in Edmonton, on Monday.

New Alberta conservative party meets, but loses caucus member

EDMONTON — Caucus members from Alberta’s two conservative parties got together for the first time Monday, but one Progressive Conservative bowed out before the joint meeting even took place.

Richard Starke, legislature member for Vermilion-Lloydminster, said he has not been happy with policy direction under PC Leader Jason Kenney and has no faith that will change under the new United Conservative Party.

Members of the Opposition Wildrose party and the Progressive Conservatives voted in a landslide on the weekend to join forces ahead of the next election set for 2019. The new party must still be registered with Elections Alberta.

“The tone and the direction and the statements of the (PC) party are not consistent with what I believe to progressive conservatism,” Starke said in an interview.

“It’s demonstrating a hardness in its attitude towards a number of issues, and a level of partisanship that I don’t think is constructive, and I don’t think is helpful for the people of Alberta.”

He cited Kenney’s comments earlier this year on gay-straight alliances in schools. Gay straight alliances are student-organized support networks to help LGBTQ students feel welcome.

Kenney had said that schools should inform parents if their children join an alliance as long as it doesn’t put the child at risk. Critics said that would effectively out a child and could put them at harm of family estrangement or worse.

“As far as I’m concerned (the GSA legislation) is there to protect vulnerable students and to be ambiguous as to whether schools would be informing parents is a fundamental problem,” said Starke.

He said he was also concerned that Kenney did not attend Pride events last month. Starke went in his place.

Starke, a two-term member of the legislature, ran and lost against Kenney for the PC party leadership on a platform of social progressivism.

He said he has concerns with Kenney’s management style and focused on a promise Kenney made after his leadership win in March.

Kenney promised the PC executive to strike a committee that would advise the bargaining team that ultimately brokered a merger with the Opposition Wildrose led by Brian Jean, Starke said.

“I wanted to be on that committee and I was told I would be on that committee. That committee never met and was never constituted.”

That underscored a lack of interest in competing viewpoints, suggested Starke, who added he will stay on to sit in the legislature as the lone PC member.

Elections Alberta said he will be allowed to do so unless the PC party officially deregisters. The PC brand is to be legally subsumed by the new party and member Mike Ellis said Starke’s status isn’t clear.

Kenney’s team declined comment.

Just Posted

Castor triple-murder trial resumes on Monday

Trial was delayed two weeks for two men accused of killing Castor-area family

UPDATED: Look no further than Westerner Park for renovation ideas

Red Deer Home Renovation & Design Show runs Friday to Sunday

Central Alberta real estate market reflects Alberta’s slow recovery

Real estate markets will bounce back but incoming mortgage changes don’t help, say realtor groups

Lorinda Stewart recounts bargaining for her daughter’s life in new memoir

Amanda Lindhout’s mom will speak in Red Deer on Nov. 4

Red Deer photographer captures rare spirit bears

As part of a Canada 150 project he toured some parts of Canada

Business of the Year Awards celebrate local achievement

Olymel, The Bra Lounge, 360 Fitness and Postma Electrical Services Ltd. are the winners this year

New northbound Hwy 2 lanes at Gaetz Avenue to open this Sunday

Drivers heading north through Red Deer on Hwy 2 will have a… Continue reading

Sockey Night at Saturday’s Rebels game

United Way Central Alberta is determined to provide warm feet for all… Continue reading

Canadian planet hunter seeking alien life

‘The shifting line of what is crazy’ says Toronto-born astrophysicist

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

4 B.C. prisons install body scanners to combat drug smuggling

The scanners are aimed to combat the smuggling of contraband including weapons and drugs

Owner of medical marijuana dispensaries challenges constitutionality of law

The law under which the owner of two medical marijuana dispensaries was… Continue reading

Victim in fatal ammonia leak remembered for his passion and smile

Friends and colleagues remember Lloyd Smith as someone who was always willing to help people

Watch: Gravel truck turns into wrong off-ramp at Highway 2 Ponoka

The new Highway 2 and Highway 53 intersection at Ponoka caused some confusion for one driver

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month