BY ZACHARY CORMIER
Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Jason Kenney made a campaign stop in Red Deer last Saturday, as he continued his push towards the PC Leadership Convention in Calgary on March 18th.
Speaking to a room of about 250 people at the Radisson Hotel, the former Conservative MP for Calgary-Midnapore outlined his plan to unite Alberta’s free enterprise parties.
Kenney, who held several Cabinet positions under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is running on a platform which proposes the PCs seek a merger with the Wildrose Party in order to oppose Alberta’s current NDP government.
During the hour and a half long speech and question and answer period, Kenney touched on a number of issues including the carbon levy and the province’s recent minimum wage increase, as well as the issue of a potential merger with the Official Opposition.
“If the PCs do not elect a pro-unity leader, the two parties will be divided in the next provincial election and maybe one of them will win. But as long as they are fighting each other for the same votes and resources, the NDP could win too,” said Kenney.
“I’m not prepared to take that chance.”
While fielding questions from members of the public, the leadership hopeful said he is not currently focused too much on what the finer policy points of what a new, united party might look like.
Instead, he said, he’s more concerned with gaining a mandate from PC party members to begin talks with Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean about a merger.
“I want to put the democratic horse in front of the policy cart,” Kenney said in response to a question about the minimum wage increase.
“I will just offer one note of prudence; I have never seen a political party anywhere in democratic history get elected while proposing to cut wage rates.”
He did, however, take some time to touch on Alberta’s new carbon levy, which came into effect on Jan. 1st.
Kenney said his first order of business if he were to become premier at the helm of the new party would be to introduce the Carbon Tax Repeal Act and to join in with current Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall in opposing the national carbon levy proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“The Government of Alberta’s lawyers should be there with Saskatchewan’s lawyers all the way up to the Supreme Court fighting it,” Kenney said.
He also noted he would like to expand conservative appeal to new and young Canadians.
“I’m not perfect but I’ll tell you this I’ve got a pretty serious work ethic. This campaign is not about me, alright? It is about you. This is a vehicle for grassroots Albertans who want to fix this problem and who have been ignored by the political elites.”
This year, for the first time since 1985 the PC leader will be chosen at a delegated convention. Each of the 87 riding associations selects 15 delegates at a local delegate meeting which they send to the leadership convention in Calgary on March 15th.
Those delegates will then vote for the new leader.
The delegate meeting for Red Deer North is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. at Festival Hall on Jan. 31st.