Wildrose, PC voting records nearly identical, Manning Centre study shows
Social conservative issue disagreements would still impede merger, political scientist says
A close look at the voting records of Progressive Conservative and Wildrose MLAs suggests the two parties agree on most of the issues facing Alberta, according to analysis done by the Manning Centre.
Out of 120 votes in the provincial legislature since the NDP took office, the two parties voted together 90 per cent of the time, says the report by John Whittaker, a policy analyst with the Calgary-based research centre.
"Since the 2015 Alberta election there has been significant discussion about the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta and the Wildrose Party coming together to form a new political party," he said, adding that the voting record "shows the two parties may have more in common than some critics have suggested."
On legislative votes, the PCs and Wildrose voted together 90.2 per cent of the time, and on money votes — matters concerning the expenditure of public funds — they voted together 95.8 per cent of the time, the study found.
That figure excludes the record of PC MLA Sandra Jansen, who regularly voted with the NDP, Whittaker said.
Members of the two conservative parties also supported each other's amendments — the PCs supported 91 per cent of Wildrose amendments and the Wildrose voted in favour of every of PC amendment.
Whittaker said he could find no particular pattern in the instances where the two parties opposed each other.
"While there may be differences in the perceptions of both parties by Albertans, and on policy matters which have not yet come up, since the 2015 election, the legislative record of both parties has been nearly identical," he said in his report.
Results not surprising
Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams says it's not surprising the two parties generally agree on economic issues, nor is it surprising they each oppose the agenda put forward by a party to the left of them both.
"Of course there's going to be a significant amount of agreement. It's quite a different matter when you're in government," she said.
"And as we've seen when the Progressive Conservatives were in government, Wildrose was voting against them much more frequently."
Williams says even though the two parties agree on most economic development and finance issues, important differences on social issues could stand in the way of the two parties coming together as one.
"Unless the social conservatives in a combined party can be persuaded to compromise, those kinds of differences are going to persist."
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