United Conservative Party
The United Conservative Party is a conservative political party in the province of Alberta, Canada. It was established in July 2017 as a merger between the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta and the Wildrose Party. When established, the UCP immediately formed the Official Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. The UCP won a majority mandate in the April 16, 2019 election to form the government of Alberta.
|Active provincial party|
|Deputy Leader||Leela Aheer|
|Executive Director||Brad Tennant|
|Founded||July 22, 2017|
|Headquarters||4317 23B Street NE|
|Seats in Legislature|
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The Wildrose Party largely consisted of former PC supporters dissatisfied with the longstanding PC government for various reasons. Three of the first five Wildrose MLAs were defectors originally elected as Progressive Conservatives.
A notable but unsuccessful attempt to collapse the Wildrose into the PC party occurred in November and December 2014 when two Wildrose MLAs joined the PCs. Weeks later, the then Wildrose Party and Official Opposition leader Danielle Smith led most of the rest of her caucus to cross the floor and join the then governing PC Party lead by Premier Jim Prentice. The remaining Wildrose Party refused to consider the request by Smith to dissolve their party. Then Wildrose President David Yager said at the time "This is not a merger in any way. It is capitulation."
Many columnists blamed the mass 2014 floor crossings for the surprise election of the NDP in May 2015 as they defeated the longest serving provincial government in Canada. Following the election, uniting the Wildrose and PC parties became a major issue. In July 2016, federal MP and former minister Jason Kenney announced that he would seek the PC leadership on a platform of seeking a merger with the Wildrose.
Wildrose leader Brian Jean largely rejected calls for a merger with the PCs, and on October 28, 2016, told Wildrose members at the party's AGM "In the months ahead, let's not put the future of our province at risk waiting for the PC party to figure out what they do or don't believe in." On December 15, 2016, Jean continued to reject proposals for a merger and stated that he would present an alternative plan, "It has to be something palatable to both sets of members", said Jean. "And I think that our plan is, quite frankly, much more palatable to both sets of members."
On the same day, Derek Fildebrandt came out as the first Wildrose MLA to openly support a merger with the PC Party after the NDP’s election when he told a radio station, "Frankly, I've heard enough. I think that people are pretty clear. They want a single conservative option to face against the NDP in the next election."
Negotiations by PC Party leader Jason Kenney and Wildrose leader Brian Jean began the first working day after Kenney was elected PC leader on March 18, 2017 on a platform of uniting the two parties. Negotiations were successful and the text of the merger agreement was released on May 18, 2017. Internal votes on the merger agreement were held by both parties on July 22, 2017. The stated plan if the merger was approved was a United Conservative Party leadership election in October 2017 and a founding convention of the party in early 2018.
42,617 Wildrose members were eligible to vote on July 22, 2017. There was a 57 per cent turnout with 23,466 voters (95%) in favour of the agreement and 1,132 (5%) against, clearing the 75% threshold required by the party's constitution. The Progressive Conservative membership also approved the agreement by a margin of 95% to 5%. With a turnout of 55% of eligible members, 25,692 PC members voted yes and 1,344 voted no, with 24 spoiled ballots; the PC party's constitution required a simple majority of its membership to approve the merger.
Despite the overwhelming vote for a merger, some Wildrosers declined to join the united party with a group of constituency association presidents meeting later in July to discuss forming a new party. Similarly, at least 10 directors of the PC Party resigned since Jason Kenney became leader, with some former Tories working to build a centrist alternative to both the United Conservatives and the NDP before the next provincial election. The second-place PC leadership candidate and MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster, Richard Starke, announced on July 24 that he would not join the UCP, and will sit in the legislature as an Independent PC MLA.
Legally, the PCs and Wildrose still existed, despite their de facto folding into the UCP. This is because Albertan electoral law does not presently permit parties to formally merge or transfer assets between each other. As a result, on July 24, 2017 the leadership team of the newly-formed UCP formally assumed the leaderships of both the PC and Wildrose parties as well. Also on that date, all members in good standing of the PCs and Wildrose became members of the UCP, with all but a few members withdrawing their memberships in the merging parties. The PCs and Wildrose have withdrawn from any meaningful public presence, thus effectively dissolving them although they continue to exist on paper.
A joint meeting of the PC and Wildrose caucuses was held on July 24, 2017, to elect Nathan Cooper, Wildrose MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, as interim leader—and hence Leader of the Opposition-- over Prasad Panda, Wildrose MLA for Calgary-Foothills, and Richard Gotfried, PC MLA for Calgary-Fish Creek. As well, members of both caucuses approached the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and ask to be recognized as the United Conservative caucus.
Kenney and Jean selected six individuals each to sit on the interim executive board of the new party. Ed Ammar was elected as first chair of the party on July 24, 2017. The interim UCP leader also appointed two MLAs to the board as non-voting members. The new party was registered with Elections Alberta as of July 31, 2017.
Calgary-South East MLA Rick Fraser left the caucus on September 21, 2017, to sit as an Independent due to his dissatisfaction with the party's leadership contest and the emphasis put by candidates on spending cuts and austerity.
The leadership election held on October 28, 2017 resulted in Jason Kenney defeating former Wildrose leader Brian Jean and Doug Schweitzer, a former aide to Jim Prentice, to become UCP leader. Kenney won more than 60% of the vote on the first ballot. Kenney successfully contested a by-election in Calgary-Lougheed on December 14, 2017, after incumbent MLA Dave Rodney resigned in order to give Kenney an opportunity to enter the Alberta legislature.
On March 16, 2019, it came to light that during the UCP leadership election campaign Jason Kenney's leadership campaign collaborated with fellow candidate Jeff Callaway's campaign to undermine the leadership campaign of former Wildrose party leader Brian Jean. A document prepared by Callaway's communication's manager describes how Kenney's campaign provided communications support as well as planned regular strategic direction throughout Callaway's campaign.
The UCP raced out to a large lead in opinion polling upon its formation, and kept it for the two years prior to the 2019 provincial election. In that election, the UCP won government for the first time with 54 percent of the vote, mainly on the strength of a near-sweep of Calgary (where it won all but three seats) and rural Alberta (where it won all but one seat). Kenney was sworn in as premier on April 30, 2019.
Policy and identityEdit
The party drew criticism over Kenney's proposal to allow schools to notify parents when their children joined Gay–Straight Alliance clubs. In response, the Notley government drafted and passed Bill 24, which forbade teachers from outing children who were members of the GSAs. The matter once again caused controversy after the UCP Policy Convention in May 2018, when members of the party voted to adopt the policy of having schools inform parents when their children have joined a GSA. UCP MLAs Ric McIver, Jason Nixon, and Leela Aheer all opposed the policy, and despite urging members to vote against adopting the policy, it was passed with 57% of the vote.
|Interim||Nathan Cooper||July 24, 2017 – October 28, 2017|
|1||Jason Kenney||October 28, 2017 – present|
|1||Mike Ellis||July 25, 2017 – October 30, 2017|
|2||Leela Aheer||October 30, 2017 – present|
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- Kenney was the leader of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta at the time of the merger with the Wildrose Party. However, he was only elected to the Legislative Assembly in a by-election after the merger had taken place and never sat as a PC MLA.
- Dreeshen was elected to the Legislative Assembly in a by-election after the merger had taken place.
- Goodridge was involved with the Wildrose Party prior to the merger and ran under their banner in Grande Prairie-Wapiti in 2015. However, she was only elected to the Legislative Assembly in a by-election after the merger had taken place and never sat as a Wildrose MLA.
- "Jason Kenney announces new leadership team, will not include Brian Jean". Metro News. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
- "Canada: Jason Kenney and United Conservatives win Alberta election". The Guardian. The Guardian. 17 April 2019.
- "Jason Kenney rides UCP wave to majority government in Alberta". CBC. CBC.
- "Jason Kenney's United Conservative Party wins majority government". GlobalNews. GlobalNews. April 17, 201.
- "Alberta Election 2019 Interactive Results: 'Today we begin to fight back' says Kenney, as UCP forms majority government". April 16, 2019.
- "Right-wingers win Canada's Alberta province". 17 April 2019 – via www.bbc.com.
- Henton, Darcy. "Mass defection expected as Wildrose MLAs to join PCs". Calgary Herald.
- Gunter, Lorne. "NDP lineup full of radicals". Calgary Sun.
- Bellefontaine, Michelle. "Wildrose leader rejects PC merger in speech to party faithful". CBC.
- Woods, James. "Wildrose rift: Party appears split over merger with PCs". Calgary Herald.
- "Wildrose divided: Fildebrandt breaks with leader, calls for merger with PCs". CBC Calgary.
- "Conservative unity vote: A timeline". Edmonton Journal. July 22, 2017. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
- "Alberta's Wildrose, PCs agree to create new United Conservative Party". CBC News. May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
- "Wildrose-PC members to vote on new united party July 22". Edmonton Journal. May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
- "Wildrose votes yes to unity with 95% of the vote". Calgary Herald. July 22, 2017. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
- Bellefontaine, Michelle (July 22, 2017). "Wildrose and PC members approve unite-the-right deal with 95% voting 'yes'". CBC News. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- "Richard Starke, former PC leadership candidate, won't join new United Conservative Party". CBC News. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
- "Nathan Cooper chosen as interim leader of United Conservative Party". CBC News. July 24, 2017.
- Graney, Emma (July 22, 2017). "United Conservative Party: The next steps". Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- James Wood (2017-09-21). "Rick Fraser, southeast Calgary MLA, leaves United Conservative caucus". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
- James Wood (2016-09-08). "Donna Kennedy-Glans joins PC leadership race". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
- "Calgary MLA steps down to allow Jason Kenney to run for legislature seat". CBC News. 2017-10-29. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
- "Kenney, Callaway campaigns collaborated to attack Brian Jean during UCP leadership race, leaked documents show". CBC. March 16, 2019.
- James Wood (2017-10-29). "Jason Kenney takes charge of UCP, seeks seat in legislature by Christmas". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
- "Alberta's new United Conservative Party is a go. What happens next?". CBC News. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
- "UCP opposes GSA bill banning parental notification". CBC News. November 7, 2017. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
- "UCP members ignore MLA pleas to vote against gay-straight alliance motion". May 6, 2018.