Splin­ter par­ties spawned by birth of United Con­ser­va­tive Party

Cape Breton Post - - Canada -

The merger of Al­berta’s two con­ser­va­tive par­ties is prompt­ing some dis­af­fected mem­bers to form splin­ter par­ties of their own despite warn­ings from ex­perts that the move is un­likely to af­fect the next pro­vin­cial elec­tion.

Mem­bers of the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party of Al­berta and the Wil­drose Party voted 95 per cent in favour of cre­at­ing the United Con­ser­va­tive Party last month.

A race for the lead­er­ship is un­der­way and in­cludes for­mer PC leader Ja­son Ken­ney, for­mer Wil­drose leader Brian Jean and con­ser­va­tive strate­gist Doug Sch­weitzer.

But there are rum­blings from those who don’t favour the move. A num­ber of dis­grun­tled PCs have been talk­ing about cre­at­ing a new cen­trist party while those on the other side of the spec­trum have al­ready re­ceived ap­proval from Elec­tions Al­berta on the name, Al­berta Ad­van­tage Party.

Ed­mon­ton lawyer Mar­i­lyn Burns was one of the founders of the Wil­drose and is hop­ing to take the same role in the Al­berta Ad­van­tage Party.

“We’ve picked up the ball that Brian Jean dropped and this is turn­ing into a huge snow­ball re­ally fast,” she said. “People are re­ally kick­ing my butt to move fast on this.”

To reach of­fi­cial party sta­tus, Burns said it has to have one of three things: 44 reg­is­tered can­di­dates for the next elec­tion, three MLAs who cross the floor to join the party or 7,868 sig­na­tures from Al­ber­tans re­flect­ing a per­cent­age of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers.

She said there are a lot of people an­gry about the merger.

“There is such an over­whelm­ing anger to­wards Brian right now be­cause of this be­trayal that you can touch it. It’s pal­pa­ble,” she said. “These people who have this in­tense emo­tion are stick­ing with the UCP for the sole pur­pose of vot­ing against Brian in Oc­to­ber in the lead­er­ship vote.”

Jean was un­avail­able for comment.

Lori Wil­liams, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist from Mount Royal Univer­sity, said the cre­ation of such splin­ter par­ties was in­evitable. The Al­berta Ad­van­tage Party will likely re­sem­ble the early days of the Wil­drose Party be­fore “they moved into real con­tention for govern­ment,” she said.

A cen­trist party might be a “con­tender for power” but it’s not go­ing to hap­pen in time for the next elec­tion, Wil­liams said.

“His­tory sug­gests that new par­ties have to sort of show their abil­i­ties in op­po­si­tion and then after one elec­tion cy­cle people are ready to en­trust them with power.”

On Mon­day, Ken­ney told re­porters in Cal­gary the num­ber isn’t sig­nif­i­cant.

“We’ve seen a few dozen PCs leave to join one of the two Lib­eral par­ties and we’ve seen per­haps a few dozen Wil­drose leave to per­haps start their own al­ter­na­tive party,” Ken­ney said.

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