Unite the Right move­ment her­alds Ken­ney as can­di­date

The Drumheller Mail - - REAL ESTATE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa

Mem­bers of Al­berta’s con­ser­va­tive lean­ing po­lit­i­cal com­mu­nity are tak­ing a close look at the an­nounce­ment that MP Ja­son Ken­ney is run­ning for the Al­berta Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party lead­er­ship with an end goal of unit­ing the right in this prov­ince.

Ken­ney, who has served as a MP since 1997 un­der the ban­ners of the Re­form Party, the Cana­dian Al­liance and then the Con­ser­va­tive Party, an­nounced on July 7 he will run in the 2016 lead­er­ship elec­tion for the PCs. He in­di­cated he would re­sign his seat in the House of Com­mons when the lead­er­ship cam­paign of­fi­cially opens.

The move is get­ting praise and crit­i­cism from all sides of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, with many are be­ing cau­tious un­til they learn more. For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper en­dorsed Ken­ney at his an­nual Cal­gary Stam­pede bar­be­cue.

MLA for Drumheller-Stet­tler Rick Strankman is aware of Ken- ney’s in­ten­tions.

“It is en­cour­ag­ing and in­ter­est­ing to get some form of move­ment to­wards con­sol­i­da­tion of what some peo­ple call the right in Al­berta,” said Strankman. “We just have to wait and see what Al­ber­tans have to say in that re­gard. That’s par­tially my role as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive, to take the barom­e­ter of the peo­ple and go from there.”

Last week he was at­tend­ing a num­ber of events at the Cal­gary Stam­pede where he hoped to brush shoul­ders with many Al­ber­tans and get a sense of what is go­ing on.

He says it is more than a num­bers game, he is want­ing to cre­ate hope and in­cen­tive.

“I am look­ing to­wards be­ing vi­sion­ary. Ja­son Ken­ney is talk­ing about unit­ing the right as Brian Jean is as well,” he said. “We need vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship and if Al­ber­tans chose one over the other then that is the way I would go with as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive.”

The first step to be­gin this process ap­pears it would be for Ken­ney to win lead­er­ship, which is in the hands of the mem­ber­ship of the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party.

Mark Nikota is the pres­i­dent of the Drumheller-Stet­tler Pro­gres­sive Con­stituency As­so­ci­a­tion and says it is very early in the process.

“I like the path that our party is on be­cause it is lis­ten­ing and go­ing back to the mem­bers and the peo­ple ask­ing ‘what do you want to see?.’ When it comes time to pick a leader and the di­rec­tion af­ter that, if the peo­ple vote that way, then the mem­ber­ship has spo­ken.”

While there is talk about a merger, Nikota ex­plains that tech­ni­cally one party will have to fold into an­other.

“It has to come from the mem­ber­ship, but it has to be pol­icy and prin­ci­ple driven, it can’t be some sort of at­tempt to gain power,” said Nikota. “I haven’t a po­si­tion on Mr. Ken­ney of­fi­cially be­cause I don’t know what he stands for, and I hope peo­ple lis­ten to him be­fore they make a de­ci­sion. What has to be fleshed out is why Ken­ney run­ning in the lead­er­ship.... Is it just to gain power, or is it a grass­roots move­ment that says we are look­ing for a dif­fer­ence in this prov­ince and he is de­liv­er­ing that.”

Over the last few year in Al­berta Pol­i­tics there have been a num­ber of fed­eral politi­cians that have tried to gain a foothold in the pro­vin­cial ranks, to vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess. Nikota hopes that the lead­er­ship comes from the peo­ple.

“I think that is why the party got turfed in the last elec­tion be­cause it looked like more abuses of power, rather than do­ing what is in the best in­ter­ests of Al­berta. The peo­ple I know at the party level, the ones that are re­build­ing the party from the ground up are all about lis­ten­ing to Al­ber­tans, lis­ten­ing to the mem­bers and do­ing what is in the pub­lic’s best in­ter­est. I hope we find the right lead­er­ship to take us in that di­rec­tion.

“I think we need charis­matic per­son who is go­ing to work in the best in­ter­ests of Al­ber­tans and is not bring­ing any bag­gage to the ta­ble, adding whether that comes from es­tab­lished mem­bers of the party or new­com­ers.

One plus he sees it’s the party has amended its se­lec­tion process for lead­er­ship.

“We have switched back to the del­e­gate sys­tem for leader, so no mat­ter who it is, the can­di­date can­not go out and sell half a mil­lion mem­ber­ships to their friends and hi­jack this. It will give every­one an equal voice in this,” said Nikota.

sub­mit­ted

MP Ja­son Ken­ney has stated his in­ten­tion to run for lead­er­ship of the Al­berta Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party.

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