Alberta political action committee brings unite-the-right show to Edmonton
Plan is to force the Wildrose and PCs to come together to defeat Notley government, says former talk-show host
After 11 months in the political wilderness, several unite-the-right groups across Alberta are busy plotting ways to push the province back toward what some call the "common-sense" path.
The groups, which bubbled to the surface after the Conservatives went down to ignominious defeat last May, include one called Future of Alberta and another known as Alberta Can't Wait.
Then there's a political action committee (PAC) called the Alberta Prosperity Fund, which hopes to convince grassroots Albertans to come together to force the province's opposition parties to set aside their differences and team up in an effort to bring down Rachel Notley's NDP government.
"We want to get the common-sense vote in Alberta back together," Dave Rutherford, the fund's spokesperson, told CBC's Edmonton AM on Tuesday. "The two parties themselves are not going to do this on their own. They've both said soothing kind of things about wanting to … yes, we should all get together. But I think the code for that is, 'Join our party.' "
In fact, both the PCs and the Wildrose have been less than enthusiastic about any talk of uniting under either banner.
When the PAC formed last year, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean issued a statement saying his party was not involved in the Alberta Prosperity Fund.
And just last month, Jean and interim PC leader Ric McIver had a public spat after the Wildrose leader said his counterpart was encouraging Alberta's conservatives to buy memberships for both parties.
"PCAA is my party and is the only party which should be leading Alberta the next time an election takes place," McIvor wrote in a post titled "Over My Dead Body."
Given the apparent distance between the two, Rutherford said his group is not willing to simply wait for the parties to unite on their own.
"We want to motivate the grassroots in Alberta to really push these parties together, somehow," said the former radio talk-show host.
The goal is to get people to join the fund, "in numbers, really, too big to ignore," he said.
"We're not a political party. We don't want to be one. We can't be one. That's not the idea. We just want to motivate Albertans to come together."
We want to motivate the grassroots in Alberta to really push these parties together, somehow.- Dave Rutherford
To that end, Rutherford's group will hold a recruitment meeting in Edmonton on Tuesday night at the Ramada Hotel on Kingsway. The group plans to tour the province drumming up support for the unite-the-right idea.
Meanwhile, a forum planned for Red Deer at the end of the month will bring together supporters from Future of Alberta and Alberta Can't Wait.
Organizers and supporters of those groups include: former PC cabinet minister and one-time leadership candidate Ric Orman; former PC party president Eric Young; former cabinet ministers Arno Doerksen and Greg Melchin; and Thompson MacDonald, former premier Ralph Klein's one-time media strategist.
The Wildrose and the Tories both say they're aware of the Red Deer forum but do not plan to officially take part.
Rutherford said after only 11 months of NDP rule, Albertans are already "angry" and "anxious" about the future.
Asked which issues his group is most concerned about, he noted that corporate taxes have gone up, and Alberta will soon have a $3-billion carbon tax and a $15 minimum wage, all of which he said will kill jobs.
The Alberta Prosperity Fund is a non-profit political corporation, similar to those that have raised and spent millions to back candidates on both sides of the presidential race south of the border, Rutherford said.
"Big labour in this country has been using these PACs for a long time," he said. "They were very active against the Harper government in the last federal election. So really this is, sort of, a leveling of the playing field."