Wildrose Party promises big policy changes at AGM

The Wildrose Party is promising big changes as party members gather for its annual general meeting in Red Deer this weekend.

500 delegates expected in Red Deer to address policies such as climate change, human rights commission

Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith came under fire in January for refusing to say whether she believed climate change exists. The party plans to address this policy at its annual general meeting in Red Deer. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The Wildrose Party is promising big changes as party members gather for its annual general meeting in Red Deer, Alta., this weekend.

Party leader Danielle Smith received a standing ovation after making her keynote speech to about 500 delegates.

"Here and now, let's show Albertans that we have learned the lessons we needed to learn," she told the crowd.

She also received 90 per cent approval in a leadership vote.

Smith says she now believes climate change exists and that mankind is at least partially to blame.

"I accept that climate change is a reality, as do our members. I accept that there's a human influence on it," Smith told reporters.

"I leave the debate about the details to the science about what extent it is and how fast it is occurring."

David Yager, president of the Wildrose Party, spoke on the Calgary Eyeopener about some other changes he is expecting to see on the agenda.

Yager says in the last election his party took a lot of heat after only winning 17 out of 87 seats in the legislature.

"The focus became what is wrong with Wildrose," he said.

"So we kind of went away for a year and a half and said, 'You know, what went wrong?'"

Many political analysts believe the party's policies may have alienated mainstream voters last year​. Yager says they want to become a party that could win.

"A year ago at the annual general meeting, Danielle Smith ... said something to the effect that, 'I proved in the 2012 election that I will run on the candidates and the policies you give me,' Yager said. "She really said to everyone, "Why don't you go get me candidates and policies we can win with.'"

Yager said his party is rooted in dissatisfaction with current parties.

"Let's face it, Wildrose started out much like [the Reform Party] 25 years ago, as a protest movement."

"What you get is a collection of people that are disappointed with something for a lot of various reasons and they come together under a new political tent."

  • Listen to Yager's full interview below on the Calgary Eyeopener below:

Yager agrees a policy change is needed on climate change.

"For our party to succeed we have to join the rest of the world on this."

There are several other issues they are also reconsidering.

"It is proposed that our position on [the human rights commission] be reversed. It has been proposed that we have a policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Yager said. 

"The Alberta First package, which would include our own constitution and our own police force and pension plan, etc. — that's all earmarked for the dust bin."

Party delegates will vote Saturday on two resolutions to direct the caucus to push for measures to reduce greenhouse gases, which lead to the extreme weather anomalies associated with climate change.

Smith said a straw poll of delegates on Friday indicated those resolutions will pass overwhelmingly, and said she takes that as a green light to speak out on climate change.

With files from the Canadian Press


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