Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Never a Hard Deadline:' PCs, Wildrose Still Working on Unite-the-Right Proposal

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Never a Hard Deadline:' PCs, Wildrose Still Working on Unite-the-Right Proposal

Article excerpt

Proposed unity deal coming soon: Kenney

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EDMONTON - Alberta Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney says his team and the Wildrose party have made progress on a unity plan and an announcement is coming soon.

Kenney said representatives from both sides have narrowed the gap on key points.

"We should have news for you in the not-too-distant future," Kenney said Friday.

Friday was the deadline set six weeks ago for negotiating teams from each party to bring back a report. The delay is not a concern given how much has to be done, Kenney said.

"This was never a hard deadline. We made it clear that it could go beyond that," he said.

"We were setting that as an aspirational goal for the unity discussion group."

Kenney declined to elaborate on sticking points in the closed-door discussions.

"I'm not going to negotiate in public, but when you're bringing together two political parties, there are dozens of different issues you have to deal with -- legal issues, governance issues, (and) obviously a statement of principles," he said.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean declined an interview request Friday. He posted a video statement saying he was optimistic about the unity talks but the direction of the party will ultimately be decided by the grassroots.

"Unifying conservatives cannot be based on a principle of gaining power for power's sake," Jean said. "It must be more than that."

A unity agreement would be the next step toward getting both parties working as one, with an organizational structure and a full slate of candidates in time for the next general election.

By law, Premier Rachel Notley must call the vote in the spring of 2019, however premiers always have the option of going early if they feel circumstances warrant.

Former premier Jim Prentice called the election a year early in 2015 and his PCs were trounced by Notley's NDP, losing power after more than four decades. …

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