'It's a hostile takeover:' Alberta experts, politicos react to the United Conservative Party
Many questions linger in the minds of Albertans after Wildrose and PC pen intent to merge
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There’s more to a party than its name, and as the Progressive Conservatives officially moved to merge with the Wildrose today there are more questions than answers about what this may do to the province’s political fabric.
For Alberta Party leader Greg Clark, this isn’t a unity, it’s a hostile takeover.
“It’s no longer the party of Peter Lougheed, it’s the kind of thing Peter Lougheed fought against,” said Clark. “Albertans reject polarized politics, they want a government that will look out for their neighbour and balance a budget…and enthusiastically defend minority rights.
He said in the months leading up to this inevitable announcement his caucus has seen interest in his centrist party spike. Some new members of the Alberta Party have jumped ship, while others who may not have been politically inclined in the past are coming out of the woodworks.
Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams said Clark’s assessment isn’t an uncommon one. Although merging the parties may be great in changing the province’s political landscape, it may leave some voters behind.
“There could be a new social conservative party that emerges out of this, it’s a distinct possibility,” Williams said. “There are many people who are loyal to the progressive conservative party and some of its principles…they’re not happy with this at all.”
But right now there are more questions than answers: who will the leader be, what members will say.
What’s not clear, according to Williams, is where this public will coalesce, and if they will merge on common ground at all. She said in the coming months it will become clear what kind of party a unified conservative front will be.
“We might see people drawing into the party, people leaving,” she said. “The next couple of months are going to be pretty interesting.”
Warren Mitchell, who served as former Premier Alison Redford’s social media manager, said he’s not going to wait for the answers; he’s ready to get involved in the unity.
“Some people call it a franken party but all parties are a collection of different interests stitched and stapled together,” Mitchell said. “I'll get involved and try to steer them my way. If all the red tories just stand on the sidelines waiting for the outcome then they've kind of ensured it's not reflective of them. It's a fresh start that does away with two very toxic parties.”