In case you're still wondering how this unite-the-right thing is supposed to work, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean has clarified matters for you.
The party that emerges when the dust has settled will be the Wildrose Party, he told the world earlier this week. The Progressive Conservatives will be no more -- although, certainly, the "new" Wildrose party (which will not be new at all, of course) will soon try to rebrand itself "conservative."
Jean's refreshing honesty is important, because up to now all would-be unite-the-righters -- including Jason Kenney, who is all but certain to become the PC leader on March 18 in Calgary -- have been pretending that what emerges after the next step in his double reverse hostile takeover would be a merger of Alberta's two principal conservative parties.
For his part, Kenney has claimed what results will be an entirely new party, although he has not explained how that could happen over the objections of the Wildrose leadership, or what would happen to the estimated $1.5 million in PC constituency bank accounts and candidate trusts that Daveberta.ca has reported would have to be forfeited if the party was dissolved. The Wildrose Party would not lose as much, because it quickly spends most of the funds it raises.
So, despite the efforts of other Wildrosers to say it ain't so -- Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt, for example, Tweeted this week that "unification should respect both Wildrose & PC members as equals" and called for negotiations closed to the media -- for the reasons Jean pointed out, it cannot easily be so.
Jean made his clarifying statement while attending a Wildrose Party town hall meeting in Camrose on Monday. He told participants that if unification happens, it will be under the Wildrose structure, and furthermore that he will be a candidate to run the united party.
According to a media report, Jean told participants in the forum that joining up with the Tories "is a small price to pay if we can have Wildrose as the legal framework for the conservative movement going forward."
And while the Wildrose Party has divisions of its own, as evidenced by constant rumours of factional warfare within the Opposition legislative caucus, it is hard to see how this could be any different without the consent of the Wildrose leader.
This presumably means the PCs under Kenney or anyone else are stuck with this reality if they decide to proceed with this union of unlike minds. At least, not without a Wildrose coup to depose Jean, and that would likely take too much time.
So if Alberta's conservatives move to union -- red Tories, progressive conservatives and the like take note -- it will be as members of a new, possibly even more radical, version of the Wildrose Party that emerges as Alberta's new "conservative" political entity.
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.
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