Alberta's new United Conservative Party is a go. What happens next?
Wildrose and PC members approved unity deal with 95% voting Yes
Now that the agreement to form Alberta's new United Conservative Party has been approved by Wildrose and Progressive Conservative Party members, work will begin immediately to get the new entity off the ground.
On Saturday, 95 per cent of Wildrose and PC members ratified the agreement reached on May 18 to unite under the UCP banner.
The PC party board will hold its final meeting on Sunday, where they will decide who will serve on the UCP interim board, party president Len Thom said.
This board will be comprised equally of Wildrose and PC members. It will be responsible for launching fundraising efforts, setting up new constituency associations and planning the new party's first general meeting.
Thom expects members will start meeting early this week.
"We will be a bunch of very busy conservatives for a while," he said.
On Monday, members of the Wildrose and PC caucuses will meet to choose an interim leader.
PC Leader Jason Kenney expected they would then ask the Speaker of the legislative assembly to recognize them as members of the new united party.
Under the unity agreement reached on May 18, the new party will register with Alberta's chief electoral officer as soon as possible.
Other committees made up equally of Wildrose and PC members will tackle policy, help with nominations and set up the rules for the leadership race.
A new leader will be chosen on Oct. 28.
Divisive leadership contest?
Jean declared he was running in his speech after Wildrose officials announced the results of the unity vote.
Volunteers were making the rounds at Saturday's special general meeting in Red Deer, selling autographed T-shirts to support Jean's leadership bid. Party members were spotted wearing "I back Brian" pins.
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Although he is likely to run, Kenney declined on Saturday to discuss when he would launch his campaign, preferring to spend the evening celebrating the Yes victory.
Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer announced his candidacy in June. Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt is also believed to be interested.
The campaign is expected to be short, intense and potentially divisive. On Saturday, Fildebrandt raised some eyebrows when he told Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid that he would not be supporting Jean.
Jean deflected a question about whether the leadership race would divide the new party.
"I'm about a positive vision and I'm not going to focus on negativity," he said. "And I'm hoping that other members won't as well, because I think that we really are in a unique, history-making moment right now.
The minimum approval thresholds were 75 per cent for Wildrose, and a simple majority of 50 per cent plus one for the PCs.
PC president Thom said he was "pleasantly surprised" at the 95 per cent support, which he called clear and decisive.