Alberta unite-the-right group aims to bring Wildrose, PCs together

Residents from communities near Cochrane and Calgary gathered for a meeting of like-minded conservatives, saying the right needs to unite now more than ever.

Former PC cabinet minister says one conservative party needed to defeat NDP

Former PC MLA Bruce McAllister, right, leads the unite-the-right discussion at Cochrane Ranche House Auditorium with Dave Rutherford, Alberta Prosperity Fund, and former PC cabinet minister Jonathan Denis, left. (CBC)

Alberta's "unite the right" movement is trying to gain momentum, holding meetings to bring Progressive Conservatives and Wildrose Party members into one camp.  

The group brainstormed in Cochrane Monday night, led by former PC cabinet minister Jonathan Denis. He was joined by former MLA Bruce McAllister, who crossed the floor from the Wildrose to the PCs. Both were defeated in last year's provincial election.

Mike Ellis, PC MLA for Calgary West, was one of the invited guests along with broadcaster Dave Rutherford, a spokesperson for a political action committee called the Alberta Prosperity Fund,.

Rutherford has called on the PCs and Wildrose to field only one candidate in the upcoming Calgary-Greenway byelection, a seat that became vacant after the death of PC MLA Manmeet Bhullar.

Several people in the room said one new conservative option is needed, because neither the PCs nor the Wildrose is connecting with current conservative values.

Duane Lauritsen says he isn't a member of any political party, but is ready to "start some place fresh." (CBC)

"If you don't learn from the mistakes from the past, you're going to repeat them again, and that's what's happening now, with the Wildrose and PCs," said Joseph Zwiek of Calgary.

"That's all they're doing, they are just going to be fighting for second if they don't unite."

Others, including Cochrane resident Duane Lauritsen, said they would prefer a new option entirely.

"I'm not a political party member of any of them, but I feel fundamentally that we have the opportunity to start some place fresh and some place new," Lauritsen said.

Conservatives need to attract young people 

Some of the attendees also argued that if conservatives hope to regain power in Alberta, they'll have to make it easier for young people to feel welcome.

Joseph Zwiek took part in the Cochrane unite-the-right event because he says young conservatives "want to be part of the fold." (CBC)

"There are young conservatives who want to be part of the fold, but it's hard for them to push through because you have the old guard keeping them at bay until they become old and grey and then lose touch with their youth," said Zwiek.

"You've got to bring in young people, otherwise there is going be no future and that's what the NDP, Liberals and [New] Democrats have been very, very good at for a long time."

Organizer John Williams says he has heard a lot of people complaining about the current government, so he wanted to do something about it.

"I'm very passionate about Alberta. I don't like the direction it's going in right now, and in order to complain about something I need to offer a solution. And by offering a solution, I need to engage people," Williams said..