Wildrose leader Jean says his party has as much chance of beating the Notley NDP as a united conservative option
By Rick BellWildrose leader Brian Jean is very clear.
His party can win it alone. He calls Wildrose “the only conservative party in Canada.”
We catch up with Jean on Stampede parade day as he wolfs down his poached eggs doused with tabasco sauce, fuelling another 16-hour workday.
For the last couple of weeks the kitty cats of the press have found a new feather toy, the latest political shiny object, former Harper cabinet minister Jason Kenney now running to be PC leader and seeking to unite conservatives in one party.
“Do you think conservatives have to unite?” says the scribbler.
“No,” says Jean.
In fact, Jean says a united party and Wildrose probably have about the same odds of defeating the Notley NDP in 2019.
“At this stage based upon the trend we’ve got I would give it the same possibility,” says the Wildrose leader.
“I think people are sick of the PCs. I don’t think they want to vote for them anymore, with or without Kenney. I don’t think it makes much of a difference.”
“If you look at the polling information, and no matter what poll you look at, even if you look at an accumulation of the last 5 months or 6 months of polling, we’re leading in every single poll.”
“We’re leading consistently in every place in the province except in Edmonton where we doubled our numbers in the last 12 months.”
Jean says the Wildrose lead is “not by little margins.”
And, in fact, polls not made public do show the Wildrose well out in front, winning a majority government and most of the seats in battleground Calgary.
By the numbers, Wildrose haven’t been this popular since former premier Alison Redford got out of Dodge after her culture of entitlement ran out of runway.
“Look at the numbers. One thing is talking points, one thing is facts. The facts bear out what I’m saying.”
“The Wildrose will win an election if we continue winning the hearts and minds of Canadans, which we are doing.”
The Wildrose leader says he’s also seen the latest fundraising for his party and he is “ecstatic.”
Jean says the federal experience where the PCs and Canadian Alliance joined forces is different from Canada. Here the percentage of people themselves as conservatives is higher.
It’s not as crucial conservative parties unite to win.
As for the Progressive Conservatives and the Kenney leadership bid, Jean considers the upcoming PC race “a distraction” and a battle that’s “going to be very divisive.”
Jean also insists he is “not concentrating on the Jason Kenney factor” though he does say he’s happy Canadans are more involved in politics now than ever before.
As for one united party, Jean says what he has said before.
If his party members tell him they want to have talks with the PCs about unity after that party’s leadership battle ends next March, he will do so.
Right now, in Wildrose “there is a divergence of opinion.”
“My members decide on our future. If we have lots of Wildrose members who come to our annual general meeting and say: Let’s unite, Brian then that’s what Brian does. If that’s what my members want I’m a servant leader. That’s my job.”
But the Wildrose leader says he’s been getting a ton of emails the last five or six days.
What’s the message?
“Stay the course. You are the man. You guys are doing the right thing,” says Jean.
As we walk out of the downtown to Jean’s next stop at the Mustard Seed, a guy recognizes him.
Jean points out there’s a lot more of that recognition than a year ago.
“My eye is on the ball and I’m not going to let go,” he says.
“I’m still in. I’ve never been more in. Every day I get up in the morning and I’m more in than the day before. I’ve become more resilient and more determined every single day. Every single day.”
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