BY RYAN WELLICOME
Conservative MP and Progressive Conservative leadership hopeful Jason Kenney brought his message of right wing unification to Lacombe last Saturday for an open discussion.
The former cabinet minister made a stop at the county room of the Lacombe Memorial Centre to share coffee with community members and officials.
During the visit, Kenney wished to share his message of uniting the right, claiming that in order for the NDP to be ousted in 2019, the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties must unite to avoid a split vote.
“I propose that we bury the hatchet, focus on what unites us – not what divides us – and put the province first,” he said
“I understand that some people have anxieties about this. That 17-year-old boy in harvest, he does not care about labels. He doesn’t care about Progressive Conservative or Wildrose or this or that. He doesn’t care about any of these labels; neither should we.
“Ordinary Albertans have an expectation that those of us who are active in politics will fix this problem. We will park our egos, our resentments, our labels and we will focus on the future. As one farmer said to me in Grande Prairie ‘The windshield is a whole lot bigger than the rear-view mirror.’”
Following a comment from a guest, Kenney likened his proposal of a united conservative party to the formations of the Saskatchewan and federal Conservative parties.
“What I am proposing is an Alberta version of the Saskatchewan Party or a provincial version of the Conservative Party of Canada,” he said.
In 1997, MLAs from the Progressive Conservative and Liberal parties in Saskatchewan formed the currently reigning Saskatchewan Party, becoming the official opposition following the 1999 provincial election and rising to power in 2007. Similarly, in 2003 the federal Progressive Conservative party merged with the Canadian Alliance to form the Conservative Party of Canada. Both parties have deep roots in economic liberalization and free trade.
When asked how he thought Albertans felt about his vision he said he believed it had a substantial backing. He said his vision is being embraced by what he calls ‘the grassroots’.
“About two-thirds of Wildrose and PC voters have indicated in several different polls that they would support the idea one of united, merged free-enterprise party,” he said.
“I see my candidacy as a voice and a vehicle for that majority.”
Kenney was asked how the PC’s would go about turning Alberta’s economy around in the event of a conservative government in 2019. He claimed encouraging capital investment in Alberta’s energy and addressing fiscal challenges is where the effort must be made.
“First of all, we’ve scared away a lot of investors. We need to bring them back. Job one is to show them that Alberta is open for business again,” he said.
“We are going to repeal the carbon tax. We are going to move towards fiscal responsibility which means (investors) know we won’t be raising taxes in the future. We’re not going to be mucking around with the royalties so (investors) know there is some predictability and that we are going to try and get taxes back down,” he said.
The ideals of the PC party, Kenney said, will help restore, ‘the Alberta Advantage.’