Delegates voted on governance policies all day Saturday at the United Conservative Party’s founding annual general meeting on Saturday in Red Deer. (Photo by MURRAY CRAWFORD/Advocate staff)

UCP convention attendees talk school choice, pipelines, social conservatism

Party holding its founding Annual General meeting in Red Deer this weekend

Thousands of delegates debated and discussed what the United Conservative Party would stand for, as the party’s founding annual general meeting roared on.

Richard Yaceyko, a delegate from Vermilion, said was very interested in the party’s approach to parental choice in education. He home schooled his children and believes the current model of the money following the child should stay.

There are several policy resolutions around parental choice around their child’s education in public, private, home school, charter school or alternative programs and ensuring per-student funding.

He was one of more than 2,300 people attending the UCP’s founding AGM in Red Deer over the weekend. The party spent Saturday debating and voting on the party’s governance policies.

Policy resolutions will be debated on Sunday. Starting with a list of 1,300 policy proposals, it was whittled down to 250. Some dealt with the return of the 10 per cent flat income tax, private delivery of some health care services and repealing the carbon tax.

But beyond parental choice, Yaceyko spoke about the importance of the grassroots.

“I want to see the grassroots have their input,” said Yaceyko. “That’s the way we’re going to have success as a conservative party.

“I think there are a lot of first timers here and we want to make sure we get it right. I think a lot of us are upset with the NDP government and we want to make sure we get it right.”

Colby Warwa, 14, thinks he’s one of the party’s youngest members. He said he joined the party in part because of his family’s involvement, but also through his own research.

“I feel this is the best party for what I believe in,” said Warwa, who is from Vegreville. “I believe in the Trans Mountain expansion being very important for Canada.”

Outside of the convention, held at the Red Deer Sheraton, Larry Heather — who has run for office in Calgary as a member of the Social Credit Party and the Christian Heritage Party in Calgary — protested what he called the UCP’s abandonment of social conservatives.

He said the party’s decision to leave the Legislature during second reading of a bill imposing a 50-metre protester free zone around abortion clinics was an act of cowardice.

“It’s a way of proclaiming neutrality without having to declare their actual position,” said Heather.

“Social conservatives are being conned.”

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Larry Heather protested the convention held in Red Deer on Saturday. He said the United Conservative Party is abandoning social conservatives. (Photo by MURRAY CRAWFORD/Advocate staff)

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