PC Party and Alberta Party members talk potential merger
Talk among members seeking stronger centrist party, but no official contact between the parties
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A new political party merger is percolating in Alberta and no, it’s not the ‘unite Alberta’ or ‘unite-the-right’ movement.
Members of both the PC Party and Alberta Party have said they wouldn’t be opposed to a merger, and according to the presidents of both parties, neither would they.
Katherine O’Neill, PC Party president said she started hearing about a possible merge with the Alberta Party once the PCs lost the provincial election.
“It wasn’t surprising there was part of our membership that said ‘if you’re going to do a merger, it should be with the centre,’ – the Alberta Party came out more than others,” said O’Neill.
Currently, O’Neill said the party is focused on the ongoing leadership race and although there have been conversations by members in certain ridings, a possible merger wouldn’t be a discussion focus until mid-2017. At that point, O’Neill said the PC Party will have a new leader and will be sending a signal about how they see themselves moving forward.
Alberta Party president Pat Cochrane said she’s heard talk of a merger among members of the Alberta Party, but added there’s been no official contact with the PC Party.
Cochrane also said the Alberta Party and Alberta Liberal Party are still talking. In the past, the Alberta Party was open to merging with the Liberals, who rejected the proposal.
“If you’re a centrist, the political party label isn’t such an issue. It’s how do we make sure that we don’t have extremes take over the province (and) that we make sure that we are solidly in the centre in our decision making.” said Cochrane.
Lori Williams, political science professor at Mount Royal University said she understands there’s an appetite for an alternative centre party, and if the conservative party is in danger of losing their centrist position, then she can understand seeking alternative solutions.
“From the time that Donna Kennedy-Glans left the leadership race saying there needed to be a voice in the centre, I think people have been looking for what that voice might be,” said Williams.
But Williams said if PC leadership candidate Jason Kenney wins, his plans to merge the PC’s and the Wildrose means there won’t be much traction for an Alberta Party merger.
“If (the PC’s) are thinking they want to explore a merger with the Alberta Party as an alternative to a merger with the Wildrose Party, that’s a discussion that has to be part of the leadership race - not something that happens after,” said Williams.