Uniting right isn't about power, it's about how Alberta is governedPublished on May 26, 2017
On May 19, Brian Jean and Jason Kenney signed an agreement in principle to unite the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties into the new United Conservative Party.
This comes after almost two months of negotiations between the two parties’ representatives, and more than a year of campaigning to build the necessary support within the parties.
Both parties are now moving in the direction that Albertans have been telling us to go. At town hall and party meetings across Alberta, everyday Albertans have told me that if we can retain what is best in the Wildrose — conservative principles, a commitment to ethical government and grassroots democracy — then we should pursue unification.
Many members and supporters on both sides have concerns and suspicions of the other. Some Wildrosers suspect that the PCs may fall back into old habits, while some PCs have their reservations about past Wildrose positions and perceptions.
My colleagues in the PC caucus have proven themselves to be above the suspicions that I once had of them, and I believe that the Wildrose caucus has done the same for them.
Faced with an ideological socialist government as destructive as the NDP, we should henceforth face them together, not divided.
Members of both parties will vote on July 22 to either accept or reject the creation of the United Conservative Party. The PCs need 50 per cent to ratify the agreement, while the Wildrose needs 75 per cent. This high threshold is meant to ensure that our party is truly united in our intentions in a decision this important.
Already, NDP supporters are buying Wildrose memberships to try and stop the agreement from passing. The NDP know very well that, faced with the combined strength of the Wildrose and PC parties, their chances of re-election have become significantly more remote.
But unification must be about more than just power. As critical as it is to ensure the defeat of the NDP in the next election, a United Conservative government must be prepared to overhaul the status quo.
We must not be afraid of the protests of the special interests — be they big business or big government — that seek to protect privilege. After a decade of deficits, overspending and acceptance of mediocrity in government, there are a host of special interests that transcend whichever party is in power. They are deeply embedded in the budget, the bureaucracy, and in the lobbyist class and will not relinquish their position easily.
The next premier and his or her MLAs must have the guts to take these interests head on.
The party should also be fearless in the face of political correctness. The line between good manners and self-censorship was crossed long ago, and no accommodation or compromise on our part will ever be enough to appease the hurt-feeling police. Leaders should fight political correctness with courage, or it will bury us with every apology that we make.
A United Conservative government should not be afraid of standing up for Alberta first. We are proud Canadians, but we should never accept the imposition of federal power into areas of provincial sovereignty.
We must fight for a renegotiation and overhaul of the equalization program, fight any federal carbon tax in the courts, and examine areas that we have previously allowed the federal government to run entirely or in part, such as health care, pensions and tax collection.
This is our chance to build something new; to build something bold and brave; to build something that will undo not just the carbon tax and Bill 6, but the very foundation of the NDP’s agenda and power. This is our chance to build a new, united party on the rock of Alberta’s foundational values, strengths and traditions.
In 1985, Ronald Reagan said, “If not us, who? And if not now, when?” In Alberta, now is the time for us to make history.