Con­ser­va­tives unite

Wil­drose, PC par­ties vote to form new party

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

The po­lit­i­cal cli­mate shifted Satur­day af­ter­noon as the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party of Al­berta and the Wil­drose voted to unite.

Each party held a ref­er­en­dum on whether to move for­ward to­gether or apart. A clear mes­sage was sent as 95 per cent of the Wil­drose mem­bers that voted and 95 per cent of the vot­ing PC mem­bers chose unity. While many de­scribed this as mon­u­men­tal, MLA for Drumheller- Stet­tler, Rick Strankman wasn’t sur­prised.

“I have been hear­ing that a long time in the con­stituency, where peo­ple are say­ing they are sick and tired of the NDP, and say­ing you guys got to get it done,” said Strankman.

Pres­i­dent of the Drumheller-Stet­tler PC Con­stituency As­so­ci­a­tion Mark Nikota said the vot­ing went as he ex­pected.

“I wasn’t that sur­prised, on the PC side, they did a lot of work for a long time on that. The num­ber was quite high on the Wil­drose side, I was a lit­tle sur­prised about that num­ber,” he said. “When you look at it, the unity peo­ple were re­ally en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to buy mem­ber­ships in both par­ties, so it’s not that sur­pris­ing in the end be­cause it was the same group of peo­ple that voted in both.” He says while it ap­pears to be a strong show of sup­port, of the el­i­gi­ble mem­bers, about 55 per cent turned out for the vote.

“I know lots of peo­ple who were not in favour of it just didn’t bother vot­ing, so I don’t know if it is as quite as strong as 95 per cent, but it doesn’t mat­ter in the end, it is go­ing for­ward,” said Nikota.

The next step in the process is to pick a new leader. Ja­son Ken­ney has in­di­cated he would run for the lead­er­ship of the new party and on Mon­day, Brian Jean of­fi­cially launched his bid. MLA for Olds-Dids­bury-Three Hills Nathan Cooper has been ap­pointed the in­terim leader of the United Con­ser­va­tive Party.

Strankman says they are still work­ing on plans to go for­ward within the con­stituen­cies.

“The in­terim joint board is sup­posed to be send­ing out some in­struc­tions and work­ing on some form of mod­el­ing for the con­stituency as­so­ci­a­tions to get to­gether and le­gal­ize their re­la­tion­ship for the new party.”

Strankman feels there should be a democ­racy path for­ward as they or­ga­nize. “What ever has to be done, has to be done in a demo­cratic fash­ion, it is a new dawn and that is some­thing we have to rec­og­nize even as MLAs, we are rep­re­sent­ing ten­ta­tively a new party,” he said.

Nikota also sees a demo­cratic way for­ward.

“The next steps are go­ing to be in­ter­est­file photo ing, ba­si­cally, you are start­ing from scratch. My feel­ing is you have to have an open com­pe­ti­tion for ev­ery­thing, board spots in the lo­cal CA, as well as your nom­i­nees for the next elec­tion,” he said. “They have been tout­ing all along that this is grass­roots, open and hon­est. If they don’t have (open com­pe­ti­tion), that it flies in the face of ev­ery­thing they are putting out there.”

MLA Rick Strankman wasn’t sur­prised that v ot­ing mem­ber­ship of the PC and Wil­drose Party voted 95 per cent in favour of uni­fi­ca­tion.

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