Outgoing interim Conservative Party Leader Rona Ambrose heaped praise on the proposed merger of Alberta's two conservative parties Thursday, calling it a "fantastic" move for her home province.
"I am very happy about the merger. Why? Because this is what Albertans want and need. They need a viable alternative," Ambrose told Chris Hall, host of CBC Radio's The House, in an exit interview airing Saturday.
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Brian Jean of the Wildrose Party and Jason Kenney of the Progressive Conservatives announced Thursday afternoon they've struck a tentative deal to unite as the United Conservative Party if their plan is ratified by a majority of members in both parties.
"People say, 'Well if the two parties come together the [Alberta] NDP will be defeated.' We don't know that, but what we do want is a viable alternative to the NDP and we can only do that if the parties merge, so the merger is fantastic," Ambrose said, adding that the conservative movement in Alberta has become fractured in recent years.
Ambrose, who is also stepping down as the member of Parliament for her Edmonton-area riding, hasn't been shy about stating her respect for her former Kenney.
"[Kenney's] been one of my best friends through my political life and he continues to be. I'm a big fan of his. I think he has the capability, the experience and the right set of values to be a great premier of Alberta, " she said.
Jean and Kenney said they'll talk about a leadership race after their members vote on whether or not to approve the merger.
And while she's offered to help move things along, Ambrose has repeatedly made it clear she won't be running for the united party.
"If I was going to stay in politics I would stay here in Ottawa. I'm leaving public office and I'm done with that," she said.