Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Wildrose Opposition to Continue Efforts in 2016 to Unite Right with PCs

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Wildrose Opposition to Continue Efforts in 2016 to Unite Right with PCs

Article excerpt

Alberta Wildrose renew effort to unite the right

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EDMONTON - Alberta Wildrose Leader Brian Jean says he'll renew efforts in 2016 to hook up with the very Progressive Conservatives who tied a cement block to his party and tossed it off a bridge.

It's a job Jean says he is surprised to be leading.

"I don't believe I was elected to unite the PCs and the Wildrose. I believe I was there to fight (them)," Jean told The Canadian Press in a year-end interview.

But the majority of Wildrosers are alarmed by the direction the NDP is taking Alberta's fragile economy with soaring debt and new taxes, so the rank-and-file have given him new marching orders, he said.

"Over the last seven, eight months I've ... travelled the province on a continuous basis and I get a lot of emails and a lot of phone calls," he said.

"It's clear to me that 80 per cent of the people in my membership believe that we should be open-minded to all conservative-principled people ... whether it be under one banner that's Wildrose or one banner that's something else."

A Wildrose-Tory union would not be a merger as much as a reunification.

The Wildrose began as a fledgling movement of disaffected PCs when Ed Stelmach was premier. The dissidents could no longer countenance what they considered to be reckless government spending, a disregard for property rights and top-down decision-making.

The Wildrose won 17 seats in 2012 to form the official Opposition against then-premier Alison Redford. Its sitting members harangued her over profligate spending and ethics scandals that ultimately hounded her from office.

New premier Jim Prentice took over in September 2014, a former federal Conservative cabinet minister with leadership, oil and business credentials.

That December, he moved to wipe out the Wildrose and enticed leader Danielle Smith and eight other legislature members to cross the floor. …

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