Interim United Conservative Party (UCP) Leader Nathan Cooper, who was in Lacombe for a meet and greet, has no concerns about the current leadership race between Jason Kenney, Brian Jean and Doug Schweitzer fracturing the party.
“Leadership races are competitive processes,” Cooper said.
“I had two brothers growing up and there were times we didn’t agree on all things but at the end of the day—we came together around the dinner table and moved forward together. That is exactly what we will see with our party.”
Cooper, who has said he is remaining neutral in the race, said there are three strong candidates who could potentially run the UCP party—with Jeff Callaway recently backing out of the race.
“It is an exciting time to be a conservative in Alberta and I firmly believe the best days are ahead of us. I look forward to supporting the permanent leader—whoever that may be,” he said.
An issue many Albertans are concerned about with the new conservative party is where they stand on social issues. Cooper, who recently announced his views on the LGBTQ issues have changed in the 10 years since he worked for a conservative group called Canada Family Action, said the new UCP party will be inclusive.
“We want to be an open, inclusive party where all conservatives of all backgrounds, faiths and gender diversities feel welcome in the party,” he said.
“I think it is important that moving forward we are a reflection of Alberta. The agreement in principle lays out 14 rock solid conservative principles and if you subscribe to those principles—you have a home in the United Conservative Party. People should feel welcome and I look forward to welcoming them.
He added new immigrant communities are also welcome in the UCP.
“We have a lot of shared values and it is important they feel welcome,” he said.
Cooper said it is important for all MLAs to attend events like the meet and greet in Lacombe.
“Listening to Albertans is a very important task that we as Alberta MLAs have to do,” he said. “It is important for us to listen to Albertans all across the province from all sorts backgrounds, professions and walks of life. We have an important job to be representing those folks. Too often politicians think they know but don’t take the time to listen and listening is a very important part of the process.”
He added it is important for the UCP to continue to fulfill its role as the official opposition until the next election.
“We need to fulfill our role as the official opposition and be hard at work for Albertans.
“That means providing alternatives, solutions and criticizing the government when necessary,” he said.
The new leader of the UCP will be announced on Oct. 28th and Cooper said the party will be fully behind that individual.
“I believe on the 30th when we go back to session, we will be stronger than we ever have been and will be in full support of the permanent leader,” he said.