United Conservatives mark first year as official opposition party

Kenney recalled some of the UCP's accomplishments and took shots at Alberta's NDP at a rally in Edmonton on Sunday.

NDP addressed one-year anniversary on Twitter, saying the UCP has a ‘weak record’

Opposition leader Jason Kenney spoke at Edmonton's Shaw Conference Centre on Sunday, marking the one-year anniversary of the United Conservative Party. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

It's been one year since Alberta's Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties officially came together to form the United Conservative Party.

Hundreds of UCP members and supporters marked the anniversary of the approval of the agreement to form the party, gathering at Edmonton's Shaw Conference Centre on Sunday evening.

In a speech that lasted 45 minutes, party leader Jason Kenney recalled some of the UCP's accomplishments over the past year.

"Where are we now one year later as the newest political party in Canada? Well, I'm pleased to report to you that we are ... in terms of membership, the largest provincial political party in Canada," Kenney said. "With 120,000 members growing every week, we are, according to the polls, the most popular political party in Canada."

Kenney highlighted the party's success with fundraising, saying the UCP has raised about $1 million in the second quarter of 2018.

He made note of the three byelections the UCP has participated in and won.

Kenney also called attention to the party's inaugural annual general meeting — the largest in Alberta history, attended by about 2,400 delegates.

Platform committee to consult with Albertans

Kenney didn't pass on the opportunity to take shots at Alberta's NDP government.

"The most common question I get is 'Jason, how much longer? When do we finally get to pass judgment on this NDP government?'" he said. "The answer, folks, is just 10 months. Three hundred sleeps and we'll get Alberta back on track."

Kenney conducted a campaign-style speech Sunday evening. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Over the next 10 months, a platform committee will form and consult with Albertans of all backgrounds, Kenney said.

"Because if we are honoured with the mandate to govern for Alberta, to put our province back on track, we will have to be a government for all Albertans — not just United Conservative members or voters," he said.

The proposed committee is expected to develop a plan to eliminate the province's deficit, balance the budget and reduce taxes.

"I will restate that bill number one of a future United Conservative government will be the carbon tax repeal act," Kenney said to cheers.

NDP slams UCP's 'weak record'

Alberta's NDP addressed the opposition party's one-year anniversary in a scathing video posted on Twitter.

In the video, Edmonton-Centre MLA David Shepherd recalled "the last seven days and [the UCP's] weak record."

Shepherd made note of the resignation of UCP MLA Prab Gill after ballot stuffing allegations, and how the UCP said they'll pay back about $7,200 after taxpayers were charged for a party event.

"One year in, Jason Kenney and the UCP are focused on bozo eruptions and infighting," Shepherd said.

Shepherd also highlighted the disqualification of former party candidate Todd Beasley, who made anti-Islam comments on Facebook.

Kenney seemed to acknowledge Beasley's disqualification during his speech, but didn't address the former candidate by name.

Kenney recalled a statement he made at the party's founding convention, saying as leader, he would have to make difficult decisions that not all party members agree with.

"And one of those decisions relates to a commitment I gave you … to ensure open and democratic nominations balanced with ensuring that people who have extreme or hateful views are not permitted on a United Conservative Party nomination ballot," he said.

Kenney said the party has completed 20 nominations and has 67 to go.


Anna McMillan


Anna McMillan is a reporter at CBC Edmonton. You can reach her at anna.mcmillan@cbc.ca