Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Progressive Conservatives Pick Jason Kenney as New Leader

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Progressive Conservatives Pick Jason Kenney as New Leader

Article excerpt

Jason Kenney new leader of Alberta's PCs

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CALGARY - Former MP Jason Kenney won the leadership of Alberta's Progressive Conservatives in a decisive first ballot victory Saturday on a promise to dissolve the storied party and revitalize the fragmented conservative movement.

"Today we have chosen unity. Today, it's springtime in Alberta!" Kenney proclaimed.

Supporters roared, cheered, chanted "Jason" and clouds of orange, white, and blue balloons floated down from the ceiling.

"Today this great party has acted with courage and vision to, in the words of (former PC premier) Ralph Klein, stop arguing about history and instead to make history," Kenney said.

Kenney promised that as premier he will take a wrecking ball to all the policies of Premier Rachel Notley's governing NDP, starting with the carbon tax on gasoline and home heating bills.

"Today is the beginning of the end of this disastrous socialist government," said Kenney.

"We have decided to ensure the defeat of this tax-hiking, job-killing, debt-loving, mean-spirited, incompetent NDP government."

Kenney, 48, captured 75 per cent -- or 1,113 -- of 1,476 votes cast in the party's first delegated convention since 1985.

Richard Starke, a sitting PC legislature member, was second with 323 votes. Longtime party member Byron Nelson was a distant third, with 40 votes.

Kenney will now begin the next phase of his unite-the-right campaign by seeking a deal with the Wildrose party to join forces under a new conservative banner.

Under Alberta rules, political parties cannot merge. Rather, they must fold up shop and surrender their assets before seeking to create a new party.

Wildrose party Leader Brian Jean has said he's open to meeting with the new PC leader Monday, but has stressed that any new conservative party will be created under a Wildrose legal framework, with the approval of Wildrose members.

Jean congratulated Kenney in a statement Saturday evening.

"Wildrose has its dancing shoes on when it comes to creating a single, principled, consolidated, conservative movement," he said.

Kenney has stressed unity is necessary to avoid the vote splitting he says led to the majority win by Notley's NDP in 2015. …

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