Jason Kenney, a man who many Canadian Conservatives (including myself) view as the face of the Conservative Party of Canada in 2016, has officially dropped out of the race for the party’s leadership. This, in itself, would be a heart attack to the Conservative movement if Kenney had not announced his alternate intentions at the same time of his stepping down. Rather than effortlessly securing the leadership of the Federal Tories, Kenney is setting his sights on the west, campaigning for the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives on a ‘unity platform’ with the Wildrose Party.
A Jason Kenney win on the side of the Progressive Conservative Party, along with a merger with the Wildrose, would be a Right-Wing Christmas. In a province that went from being Canada’s Conservative Stronghold to being run by a majority-holding NDP in the blink of an eye, rebuild is needed.
The importance of this rebuild could not be stressed more. Alberta is not only a bastion of Canadian Conservatism, but it is also a resource-rich paradise. It is a curse that Canada’s ‘oil province’ is currently being run by one of the most anti-oil political parties in Canadian history.
There is, however, a way to change that. There is a way to take back the Conservative promised land. This is likely only done through a fully united Conservative movement within Alberta. In simplest terms, the centre-right Progressive Conservatives must agree to sit on the same bench as the right wing Wildrose Party.
Unfortunately, this might spell trouble. Since Kenney made his bid for the leadership of the Alberta PC Party, many left-leaning members of the party have voiced their hospitality towards Kenney and their disdain for his candidacy. MLA Sandra Jansen and former MLA Thomas Lukaszuk have both made their views clear, Lukaszuk going as far as calling a Jason Kenney Leadership of the party a “hostile takeover”.
It is for the same reason that many Progressive Conservatives do not want Jason Kenney to win that many Wildrose members would not want to merge with the PCs; political disagreement. Kenney, himself, is much like a Wildrose member within the PCs. The Alberta Progressive Conservative Party has many Liberals in its midst. The entire existence of the Wildrose at all is due to the Alberta Progressive Conservatives being too progressive, and not conservative enough for many.
Despite being difficult, the merger is not impossible. In 2003, the likewise centre-right Progressive Conservative Party of Canada merged with the right-wing Populist Canadian Alliance. The united Conservative Party went on to secure a minority government in 2006, followed by ten years in power under Stephen Harper. If a united right can exist federally, why can it not take place in Canada’s most conservative province?