Alberta’s Opposition Wildrose members overwhelmingly approve merger with PCs

Alberta’s Opposition Wildrose has overwhelmingly approved a plan to merge with the province’s Progressive Conservative party.

Party members voted 95 per cent in favour of the deal, which would see the creation of a new United Conservative Party.

The deal needed 75 per cent support to be approved.

“What a day for Alberta! What a day for conservatives and what a day for Wildrose members!” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean exclaimed in his speech following the huge endorsement for unity.

The results of the Progressive Conservative vote will be announced later Saturday evening.

The PCs require a simple majority to approve the deal.

PC Leader Jason Kenney and Jean have been criss-crossing the province in recent weeks to drum up support for a merger.

If both sides approve the deal, it will spell the end of the Progressive Conservative brand that governed Alberta for almost 44 years. That run ended when Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP won a majority in the 2015 election.

A merger has been kicked around in various forms for a decade, but caught fire a year ago when Kenney launched his successful bid for the Tory leadership.

More than 50,000 Tories and about 40,000 in the Wildrose had signed up to vote.

Jean stressed in his speech on Saturday that the new party would not lose sight of its values.

“Today is not the end of Wildrose, but a new beginning, where we are one step closer to putting power back into the hands of the ordinary working people of Alberta,” Jean said.

“We are together going to restore conservative principles to our great province.”

There had been pockets of resistance amid concerns the new party would move far to the right on social issues and open a spot for other parties to grab centrist voters.

Former PC president Katherine O’Neill left the party after Kenney’s leadership win in March and now runs Alberta Together, a political action committee looking to attract progressive conservative voters, perhaps through the Alberta Party.

If the PCs approve the deal, it will launch a leadership race that already has three participants. Jean and Kenney have said they’ll run, and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer is already campaigning. Wildrose finance critic Derek Fildebrandt has said he is also considering it.

As per the unity agreement, joint committees would be struck to get the machinery of a new party in place with constituency associations and candidates. The goal is to be ready for the next election set for the spring of 2019.

Uncertainty remains over what happens if one side fails to ratify.

Kenney has talked about a possible Plan B including some form of co-operation, such as the two sides not running against each other in certain constituencies.

Just Posted

WATCH: Setters Place grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Setters Place officially opened to the public Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

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