'Grow our party,' Wildrose leader urges members at AGM

Brian Jean urged party members Saturday to help make Wildrose the choice of right-wing voters in the next Alberta election and defeat the NDP.
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean answered questions from Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper during a session at the party's AGM in Red Deer on Saturday. (CBC)

Brian Jean urged party members Saturday to help make Wildrose the choice of right-wing voters in the next Alberta election and defeat the NDP.

"If I was to give one simple bit of advice, I would say this: Grow our party," the Wildrose leader told members at the party's annual general meeting in Red Deer.

"Let Albertans know that we do represent their fiscal values, that we will make the province better, we will make it stronger, and we will do it for them."

Ever since the NDP won the May 2015 provincial election, Alberta conservatives have talked about joining forces to return a right-wing government to power in 2019.

That desire is behind former Conservative MP Jason Kenney's bid to lead the Progressive Conservatives. Kenney wants to win the leadership and then start talking about creating a new party.

In his leader's speech Friday night, Jean said he is not interested in joining with the PCs in the short-term, who he described as "confused about its values" and rife with "instability."

He said the election is coming up soon and it was no time to put the province's future at risk waiting for the PCs to make a decision on their direction.

In an interview with CBC News Saturday, Jean said he is still interested in a united right in the long-term. In terms of what role PC members might play, he said he would await the outcome of their leadership race, particularly what happens with Kenney's campaign. 

"There are many other leadership contenders and we'll have to wait and see which way all of them go and of course remember, one person does not make a party," Jean said. 

"We have an executive committee of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta and we have their membership.

"And they have to be part of that as well, or else it's not going to be a very good move forward to consolidate conservatives in one movement." 

Other party resolutions

On Saturday morning, party members passed a number of policy resolutions, including a call for the government to repeal the carbon tax set to take effect Jan. 1.

Members also passed policies for the government not to subsidize political parties, candidates or constituency associations with tax dollars, to repeal the existing farm safety act and consult with the agricultural community before introducing a new bill, and reintroduce the flat tax which one member called a "gift from Ralph Klein."

A large majority of members defeated a potentially-controversial motion to include parents in all educational issues, including sexual identity and orientation of their children.

Wildrose MLAs Mark Smith and Derek Fildebrandt spoke against the motion.

Fildebrandt said opponents could see this as trying to "out" LGBTQ students. 

The party's MLAs will be back at the legislative assembly on Monday.