Bid to unite Alberta conservatives supported by Wildrose, Brian Jean says

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean says he’s pleased that the majority of Wildrose Party members that voted at the annual general meeting approve of his message to unite Alberta conservatives.
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean called on his party to be more welcoming to all conservatives, even people who voted and volunteered for the Progressive Conservatives in the past. (CBC )

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said the majority of Wildrose Party members who voted at the annual general meeting approve of his message to unite Alberta conservatives.

Seventy-eight per cent of party members voted against holding a leadership review.

When asked about the result, Jean focused on the 80 per cent he says voted in favour of his vision of opening the Wildrose to all conservatives, including Progressive Conservatives.

"Twenty per cent of the people don't think that's the right move and they want to have a different vision for the party," Jean said Saturday about the vote that took place at a meeting mostly closed to the media. 

"But my vision for the party is supported by 80 per cent of Wildrosers and 100 per cent of Albertans."

Jean's contention that the Wildrose should open its arms to PC members is yet another step in the battle over who best represents right-wing voters in Alberta.

The debate has intensified since the May 5th election which saw the Alberta NDP win its first majority government.

The PCs have been holding meetings in constituency associations across the province to revitalize the party, which was left with only nine members after the votes were counted on election night.

Some members feel that the Tories can best represent the centre of the political spectrum.

Welcoming Wildrose

Jean says the PCs are no longer a factor in Alberta politics. In his speech to party members Friday night, he said conservatives need to unite to defeat the NDP because their economic policies are hurting Alberta. 

"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. "They know their old party is dying or dead. And they don't think they're welcome here.

"We need to do more to welcome them and bring them into a Wildrose party that can be a home for them."

In his speech, Jean talked about the events of December 2014, when former leader Danielle Smith crossed to the PCs along with nine other MLAs.

That, along with an earlier floor-crossing by former Wildrosers Kerry Towle and Ian Donovan, left the party with only five caucus members.

Jean praised the MLAs who stuck with the party. He dismissed critics who declared the Wildrose dead because the face of the party had joined the PCs. 

"Leaders come and leaders go but values, principles and ideas, they endure," Jean said.

The Wildrose with Jean as the leader won 21 seats, four more than they won under Smith's leadership in 2012.

The party's seat total now sits at 22 after Prasad Panda won the September byelection in Calgary-Foothills.