Brian Jean makes final unity pitch in Calgary ahead of Saturday's vote
The Wildrose leader says he's confident conservatives will vote to merge
Making his final push for unity with a stop in Calgary on Tuesday, Wildrose leader Brian Jean said he's confident the vote to consolidate with the PCs will be successful.
The results of that vote will be known on Saturday afternoon.
Jean faces a high threshold to get the result he wants, with 75 per cent of Wildrose members needed to vote in favour of a merger with the PCs to form the United Conservative Party.
"What I've said from the very beginning of this process, what I've said from the first night I was elected by the members of this party as the leader, is that this is up to the members… and I've always trusted that they will make the right decision and, of course, I will abide by that decision whatever it is," he said.
Politics is 'uncertain'
Jean deflected questions about what would happen if the vote did not go his way and said he's seen no "significant evidence" of outsiders buying memberships in order to derail the vote.
He's also confident all Wildrose MLAs will follow him into a united party.
"Well, I certainly hope so," he said, adding the caucus discussed the issues around a united conservative party prior to the public push for the merger.
"I'm not 100 per cent certain ever as to what's going to take place in politics, because politics is exactly that, it's uncertain."
Of the roughly 120 people who showed up to hear Jean's message of unity was longtime conservative Hal Walker, who holds memberships in both the Wildrose and PC parties.
He says he's feeling good about a merger, even with the high threshold needed in the Wildrose vote.
"Well it's always got to be a concern," he said. "That's a big number in any vote any time, but from everything that we've seen and heard, we feel we should be able to be there."
Leadership race would follow
The vote, however, doesn't end the intrigue on Alberta's political right, with some members of the Wildrose openly speculating about forming a new party if the merger vote succeeds.
"Well I'm disappointed they would do that before they see the opportunities that we have," said Jean, when asked about the possibility.
- Doug Schweitzer will run for United Conservative Party leadership
- Derek Fildebrandt would consider run for leadership of United Conservative Party, if it were to exist
"We're under the same legal structure and same foundation principles as the Wildrose Party and what it has been for the last decade and what's made us so strong. I believe that if they participate … I think that they can mold this party exactly as we did with the Wildrose, with the members in charge."
Jean told the crowd he would resign as party leader if the unity vote is successful in order to run for the leadership of the UCP, where he would face off against Doug Schweitzer and, very likely, current PC leader Jason Kenney. MLA Derek Fildebrandt has also expressed an interest in the leadership.
The new leader would be chosen on October 28.
With files from Scott Dippel