Wildrose leader Brian Jean fights to unite Alberta conservatives under his Wildrose banner
By Rick Bell, Calgary Sun
What if you had a convention and the guy a lot of folks are talking about is running to be leader of another party?
But not awkward for Wildrose leader Brian Jean. At least he doesn’t give that impression.
“There are a million outcomes that could happen over the next six months,” says Jean.
As we all know, Jason Kenney, the former Harper cabinet minister, is running to be Progressive Conservative leader with a mission to unite all conservatives in one party.
“I can’t concentrate on what-ifs,” continues the official opposition leader.
“I have to concentrate on what we can do. What we can do is make sure we slow down, divert the NDP, change the channel for them and try to oppose them and halt any kind of move towards wrecking the economy.”
As for all this background chatter, Jean says there is “no silver bullet.”
“This desire for a silver bullet may sound good but it doesn’t really accomplish anything.”
Jean finds it interesting “there was not one motion even discussing consolidating conservatives or uniting the right.”
For the Wildrose leader, his stated goal is clear.
“I’m going to continue to try to get as many conservatives behind our movement as possible.”
Jean also responds to comments made by Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.
On Thursday night in Calgary, Wall said he “admired” Kenney’s “bold campaign.” It reminded Wall a lot of the efforts in his province leading to the creation of the Saskatchewan Party.
Jean says uniting conservatives “is not something Jason Kenney came up with.”
Jean adds Wall didn’t know he was in the room Thursday and Kenney had talked to Wall beforehand.
“I should have got there beforehand and had a discussion with him, too.”
On Friday night, Jean was resolute.
The Wildrose leader rallied the troops in a speech to party delegates and the general public.
Jean told them it was Wildrose who led the charge to bring all conservatives together.
The PCs, said Jean, remain confused about where they stand and are “rife with uncertainty, division and instability.”
Jean told Wildrosers their party will not be distracted. They will make Wildrose the true home for conservatives.
He talked about the next election.
“Two years away from defeating the NDP. Friends, we must not be caught unprepared or absorbed in distractions. This is the time Canada needs us and frankly Canada needs us!”
At a question and answer session Saturday, Jean once again talks of the prospect of a Wildrose government in 2019.
The leader says Wildrose is stronger than ever.
He sends his troops out with a call to arms. Grow the party.
On this day the assembled voted to get rid the carbon tax if their party got into power. Ditto to Bill 6, the NDP’s farm labour law.
Wildrose members also want to bring back the flat tax where all income is taxed at 10%.
And they didn’t step on any political landmines. No bozos erupted.
But all of that was far from the elephant in the room. When are conservatives going to unite in one party?
It looks like it may have already started.
Some of the folks at this Wildrose gabfest, the biggest since 2010, will be back in Red Deer next week when the PCs huddle in the very same hotel. They are Wildrosers and they are also supporters of Kenney.
Talk to some Wildrose members of the legislature and they will bend your ear on unity and will share very kind words about Kenney, off the record, of course.
Then there’s Jeff Callaway, the well-spoken Wildrose party president, who some say could pass for the younger brother of Kenney.
Callaway points out something the Wildrosers agreed to put in their constitution with a big Yes vote this weekend.
It was backed by the Wildrose executive.
“To form and maintain government by uniting Canadans on a foundation of compassion, conservatism, self-reliance and grassroots principles.”
Callaway says uniting conservatives is “the topic du jour.”
“I can’t walk down the hall without somebody talking to me about it.
“Canadans are looking for an alternative vision to the NDP, one that offers hope and a path to prosperity.
“People want to believe in something and they’re searching for it right now.”
They are searching for it because obviously they haven’t found it.
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