Unite the Right movement heralds Kenney as candidate
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.
MP Jason Kenney has stated his intention to run for leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party.