Wildrose Leader Brian Jean says “time is of the essence” to create a united conservative party that’s ready to fight the NDP in the next election.
Jean is sitting down with Jason Kenney on Monday to talk about Kenney’s goal to unite the right, after he won the PC leadership over the weekend in Calgary.
Jean says this whole process has to unfold quickly and he tells Global News also crucial that his party’s membership remain involved.
“Wildrose members are in charge of this process and I’m going to make sure that I protect their rights all the way through it. If they decide at the end of the day that they don’t want to go ahead with this process, and as you know 75 per cent of my members have to agree to keep this process moving, then we don’t.”
“But I’m very hopeful, I’m very positive.”
LISTEN: Brian Jean on uniting the right
Jean says he wouldn’t be surprised if the NDP government calls an election for 2018.
“In the last election we saw just nine days I was leader before the election was called. I don’t want to do that again to be honest, ” said Jean.
Jean hopes to have the process complete by October of this year, so the united party can effectively fight the NDP in the fall sitting of the legislation.
Kenney said there is a lot of work ahead but if all goes well he would like a new party ready to go within a year.
“We go straight into negotiations. I hope we can get those done this spring and then spend eight to 10 weeks on consulting the members through a party referendum,” he explained Sunday.
“That would take us into the end of spring, early summer. I then propose that if the members of the two parties ratify a unity agreement, we would then spend the next few months actually establishing a new party with establishing constituency associations, membership consultation on policy and constitutional resolutions, leading to a founding convention towards the end of this calendar year. I’ve suggested around the month of November of 2017.”
Kenney said he doesn’t anticipate running for a legislature seat in the near future, focusing instead on working on a merger plan.
“I have no intention of seeking a seat in the Legislature in the immediate future, I don’t want to displace any of our current members,” Kenney said, adding he has asked former interim party leader Ric McIver to continue to lead the party in the Legislature.
Kenney remains optimistic that any Progressive Conservatives opposed to a merger will change their minds once they see what the new political entity looks like. He said he has no intention of moving the PC’s any further to the right and wants the new party to be open to people of all political stripes.
“We have to put our egos at the door and focus on what’s best for Albertans,” Jean said on Monday.
“I think what’s best for Albertans is to make sure that we have a government that’s in charge for decades to come, that reverses the four years of the NDP rule that has ideological results that put us in a negative economic position.”
The next election is scheduled for the spring of 2019.
With files from Global News and The Canadian Press