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Survey finds unified right capable of securing a majority government in Alberta
Published Tuesday, February 16, 2016 3:05PM MST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 16, 2016 6:53PM MST
A recent survey commissioned by the Alberta Prosperity Fund found significant support for the amalgamation of the Wildrose Party and PC Party.
“A combined PC-Wildrose entity of some kind, in this poll, would get 52 per cent support, majority government territory,” explained Alberta Prosperity Fund spokesperson Dave Rutherford. “It found out that Albertans really do want to unify these two conservative parties.”
Rutherford says that, while leaders of the two parties continue to mince words and avoid discussions on a unified right, a grassroots movement is leading the calls for a joint conservative effort.
“It seems to me, Albertans, at least those who are paying attention to where the province wants to go, are saying we’ve got to get going now,” explained Rutherford. “I think there is an urgency. We have three and a half years before the next election, clearly, but we need some traction now. We’ve got to get going now.”
The organization’s survey found the Wildrose Party has the support of 31 per cent of Albertans, the most of the province’s three major parties, but would fall short of securing a majority government if an election was held today.
“The ranking is Wildrose, NDP, and PCs and, the way it’s portrayed by Albertans now, none of them would be in majority territory but a combined Wildrose-PC party would be.”
Rutherford says many conservatives in the province are angry and frustrated with the “ideological bits of legislations” enacted under the NDP government.
The Alberta Prosperity Fund recently approached the Wildrose and PCs with the idea of nominating a joint candidate in the upcoming byelection to select MLA Manmeet Bhullar’s successor in Calgary-Greenway. According to Rutherford, both parties rejected the proposal.
Robin Martin is pursuing the Wildrose nomination for Calgary-Greenway as he 'doesn't like seeing what is happening in Alberta'.
"I feel like a strong conservative opposition is the right answer in the short term," said Martin. "In the longer term, a strong conservative majority, a small 'c' conservative."
Martin sees the value in bringing the parties together.
“There’s been a lot of talk out there certainly on whether a united right-wing, uniting those two parties, actually presents the best opportunity to oust the NDP and I think there’s something to be said for that, frankly, just on sheer numbers,” said Martin.
“If the parties told me tomorrow that they were planning on merging, I’d be delighted by that. If it’s not something that’s decided by the next general election, we’ve missed an opportunity.”
Martin admits it will take time for supporters of either party to accept the idea of joining forces given the nostalgia attached to the PC majority governments of the past under leaders including Ralph Klein and the grassroot beginnings of the Wildrose Party.
The Calgary-Greenway byelection must be called by June 3, 2016, more than six months after the seat was left vacant by the untimely death of Manmeet Bhullar.