Calgary

Potential Jason Kenney bid for PC leadership debated by political panel

Jason Kenney will have a tall hill to climb if he decides to run for leader of the Progressive Conservatives and unite them with Wildrose ahead of the next provincial election, according to members of the CBC News Calgary at 6 Political Panel.

Party still strong at the grassroots level

Janet Brown, Corey Hogan and Zain Velji make up this week's Political Panel and discuss Jason Kenney's rumoured PC leadership bid. 7:48

Jason Kenney will have a tall hill to climb if he decides to run for leader of the Progressive Conservatives and unite them with Wildrose ahead of the next provincial election, according to members of the CBC News Calgary at 6 political panel.

The rumoured move by Kenney is being compared by some to Jim Prentice making a similar jump from federal to provincial politics.

"This is a very different type of proposed leadership campaign, Jim Prentice was courted, they wanted Jim Prentice, he was going to be asked to come in and save their party, rebuild after the [former premier Alison] Redford days," said Corey Hogan, former executive director of the Alberta Liberal Party.

"Jason Kenney is essentially talking about a hostile takeover. He has actively supported the Wildrose the last three elections, he's now saying, 'I'm going to come in, I'm going to take over the PC party and then come hell or high water I'm going to merge it with the Wildrose.'"

Delegates will make it difficult

The fact the PCs will use delegates to choose their next leader rather than having members vote at a convention will add a wrinkle to Kenney's leadership aspirations as well, said political observer and pollster Janet Brown.

"I think a lot of people are talking about Jason Kenney's ability to organize and ability to network and they think he's going to be able to go and infiltrate these 87 riding associations," she said.

"But the one thing about the PCs, despite all the problems they've had over the last couple of years, they do have a strong grassroots structure. Those people who have been living and breathing the PC brand for the last couple of years, I don't see them wanting a Jason Kenney style of leadership."

Political climate

The political climate in Alberta is also quite different than when the Alliance and Reform parties merged more than a decade ago to form the federal Conservatives.

"The fact is a large majority of the PCs don't want Kenney, you have people saying this is a hostile takeover, that's exactly what this would be," said Zain Velji, a senior campaign strategist who's worked with several parties.

"So that concept of a merger or a friendly, 'we're in it together and we're going to put this to rest and we have victory with this pathway,' many people do not agree this is the pathway."

The CBC News Calgary at 6 Political Panel weighs in on the rumoured bid for the PC leadership by Jason Kenney. (Mark Taylor/Canadian Press)

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