PC, Wildrose members decide today if there will be a United Conservative Party in Alberta
Wildrose vote revealed after 4 p.m., while PC result expected two hours later
Will Premier Rachel Notley and the NDP face a United Conservative Party in the next provincial election? That question will be answered later today when the results of a unity vote are revealed by the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties.
About 40,000 Wildrose members and 50,000 PCs are eligible to vote on an agreement to form a new United Conservative Party.
While PC members have to approve the agreement by a simple majority of 50 per cent plus one, the threshold for the Wildrose is much higher at 75 per cent.
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"I am confident, but I'm not certain," Kenney said Friday on CBC's Power and Politics.
"Seventy-five per cent is a very high threshold and Wildrose is a populist party so it has an element within it who are contrarians by nature and will vote against just about any proposition."
Still, Kenney said he thinks the yes side will prevail.
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean shared Kenney's optimism.
"I've probably spoken to almost 15,000 Albertans and they're very optimistic about the yes movement," he told CBC News on Thursday.
"We saw 10,000 memberships purchased over three days and I believe that was the majority of Albertans who truly want unity and want one conservative movement going forward."
The results of the Wildrose vote will be announced shortly after 4 p.m. in Red Deer. The PCs will make their announcement at an event in Calgary after voting closes at 6 p.m.
Things will move quickly
The agreement to unite the two parties was reached on May 18. Since then, Jean and Kenney have travelled the province trying to sell the deal to members of their respective parties.
The PC vote is taking place over three days. Wildrose members will vote online or by phone between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday.
On Friday, Wildrose was scrambling to deal with problems members have experienced with the PINs required to cast a vote. Some haven't received a number. Others reported receiving two or more.
The PCs were also dealing with PIN problems over the last two days. By Thursday only half of the 50,000 new members had registered to vote, Kenney said.
Some members experienced long waits on the PIN helpline. The party extended the deadline for registrations and increased the number of people staffing the phones in hopes of accommodating everyone wanting to vote.
If the agreement passes, things are expected to move quite quickly. The new party will register with Elections Alberta and set up various committees with equal representation from the PCs and Wildrose to get the new party off the ground.
A race to pick a new leader will begin, culminating in a vote on Oct. 28.
Jean and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer have said they are running. Kenney hasn't formally declared but will likely be in the race. Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt is expected to run as well.
If the Wildrose side of the vote is just shy of 75 per cent, Kenney said there may be discussions on whether a merger could still go ahead.
"We'll have to take a step back, take a deep breath, assess the results and consult with our members and move forward," he said.
If the deal fails outright, Kenney said he would attempt to unite conservatives under the Progressive Conservative party banner.