Alberta's unite the right effort takes to the pub
Wildrose and PC supporters get together to find common ground in Calgary
Pints of beer have been known to make odd bedfellows, so perhaps it's fitting a unite-the-right discussion took place in a drinking establishment.
- Bid to unite Alberta conservatives supported by Wildrose, Brian Jean says
- Brian Jean touts 'unite the right' message in Calgary
- Rob Anderson stirs the unite-the-right pot
Wildrose finance critic Derek Fildebrandt and PC MLA Mike Ellis co-hosted a get together at Wurst on Fourth Street on Monday in order to talk about the future of the conservative movement in Alberta.
It was a crowded room.
"We're just trying to let that conversation happen from the bottom up right now, with grassroots members, to let them do it," said Fildebrandt.
He says no matter which side of the party divide people find themselves, Alberta conservatives have many shared values and principles and it's about time they figured out how they align.
Christina Pilarski showed up at the pub night to see what others had to say about working together, saying it's the right time for the discussion.
"I think at the end of the day, whether it is social issues or other issues, everyone is going to have a little bit different of an opinion," she said.
"But if we can focus on what we think is the same, we can bring kind of tremendous growth, I think, to the conservative movement within the province."
It's not a new idea, of course, with memories of the majority of the previous Wildrose caucus crossing the floor to Jim Prentice's then-ruling PCs fresh in people's minds.
That experiment in forced integration proved fatal for the floor-crossers, including former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, and presaged the collapse of the PC dynasty in the last provincial election.
It's also not strictly a grassroots movement, either, with Wildrose leader Brian Jean pressing the message of uniting the right in recent speeches, although his message is more about welcoming PCs to his party's fold.
"The truth is there is a whole bunch of good conservatives in this province who today don't believe they have a viable political home," he said at the party's annual general meeting. "They know their old party is dying or dead, and they don't think they're welcome here.
For his part, Fildebrandt isn't expecting anyone to jump into bed at the end of a night at the bar, but he hopes they walk away with a better understanding of where they want the conservative movement to go.
He says he's been contacted by Wildrose and PC supporters about holding a similar event in Red Deer.