Local conservatives politicians are unanimous in their belief that a merger of the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties is a good thing for Alberta.
"It is a great day,” says Wildrose Lacombe – Ponoka MLA Ron Orr. "Truthfully, conservatives across this province, no matter what stripe they may be at the moment, really do in many respects want to be united and definitely don't want to see another term of NDP government. So it takes some willingness to agree, and you have to find the points you hold in common and focus on those and build on them."
Orr’s Wildrose colleague, Innisfail – Sylvan Lake MLA Don MacIntrye, says grassroots members must be at the forefront of the conservative unity movement.
“Wildrose membership made it very clear that if there was going to be any kind of unity movement whatsoever, that the founding principles of the Wildrose would have to be maintained, and that what's this agreement does,” he notes. “These principles create a home for all those who are united and ensure a better future for our province."
Mary Anne Jablonski, former PC MLA for Red Deer – North, supported Jason Kenney during his PC leadership run and is pleased to see the merger moving forward.
“I know there's still a whole lot of work to do, but it's a great accomplishment because of the short timeline they've had to bring this together,” she says. “Unity is the only way that we can bring hope back to this province and bring back the Alberta advantage. I'm very pleased to see they're working hard on making this happen."
Jablonski adds that a united conservative party is about finding the right balance for Alberta.
“Nobody can deny the environment is a very important thing and we need to pay attention to it, but people are very important too. You need to have balance in your policies and your programs in order to ensure people don’t get hurt, and I mean families, too. The NDP are pushing things really fast and really hard and I think it's hurting a lot of people, so that's why I support this unity," Jablonski explains.
Conservative MP for Red Deer – Mountain View, Earl Dreeshen is also pleased with Thursday’s announcement from his former caucus colleagues.
“Both Brian Jean and Jason Kenney are dear friends of mine and I know they both have Alberta’s best interest at heart. This unification process is, I think, direct proof of their commitment to Albertans,” Dreeshen says. “They both have distinct strengths and working in our federal arena, they brought so many different skills to the table. I’m looking forward to how they present their views to their members.”
The unification agreement is to be ratified by members of both parties by July 22.
A leader for the United Conservative Party will be chosen in October. Both Jean and Kenney say they will be seeking the job. Orr and MacIntyre say they’ll be supporting Jean while Jablonski says she wants to see who else might be joining the race. Dreeshen says he’s also undecided for the time being.
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