By Marina Gendi
Are they the Progressive Party or the Wildrose Party? The answer, ladies and gentlemen, is the United Conservative Party. The vote to merge both parties took place on July 22 of this year with a 95% agreement between the two. The Progressive Conservative party took a hard hit during the last provincial elections when the NDP attained the majority of the vote; the Wildrose became the official opposition party with the most seats won. The 44-year rule of the Progressive Conservative dynasty had come to an end and, as a result, the PC party attempted to salvage their mess by merging with the Wildrose party.
What can we expect in the next few months? The leadership election for the UCP party leader is coming up, and the entry fee is a record-breaking $95,000. There were initially four people running for candidacy: Doug Schweitzer, Jason Kenney, Brian Jean, and Jeff Callaway; however, Callaway withdrew from the race on October 4th. In his resignation, he stated that “[t]here are three weeks left in this race; I’m going to work hard to try to put Jason Kenney over the top.”
The leadership vote is scheduled to take place at 9:00 AM on October 26, ending at 5:00 PM on October 28. Registration for memberships ended on September 29. In order to be eligible to vote, registration and proof of identity are required. There are two ways to register for the vote: registering online or paper registration forms, which must be mailed in along with proof of identification. If you wish to submit a paper form, the deadline to mail it in is October 13 at 5:00. Who are these leaders running for candidacy? Why should you care? The Alberta Provincial elections take place on May 31, 2019. However, you may regret not being involved sooner while all the important decisions are being made. Here’s the scoop on the candidacy leaders for the UCP.
Let’s start off with the famous 49-year-old Jason Kenney: former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (2008-2013), Minister of Employment and Social Development (2013-2015), Minister of Multiculturalism and Citizenship (2013-2015), and Minister of National Defence (2015) during the reign of the Harper government. Kenny was the final leader of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta. His slogan is “United, we will renew the Alberta Advantage.”
Among many other matters, Kenny fully supports Grassroots and has a Grassroots Policy Plan. His standpoint for the TransCanada pipeline entails that Alberta will be able to make greater revenue and take oil to Quebec for a much cheaper cost. Further, Kenney wants to develop a pilot program within the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program to help individuals. He states in his platform that “[t]here are tens of thousands of some of the brightest young people in the world in the United States, many of them graduates of some of the top research universities on the planet that are working for tech companies: for example, in Silicon Valley. But they can’t get their greencards.” The pilot program will help to stifle these issues according to Kenney. Another standpoint of his is that he wants to abolish Bill 6, which will allow families to take control of their businesses. Quite the impressive resume. However, it must be taken into consideration that Kenney and Devinder Shory worked closely with one another under the Harper government to create what was most commonly referred to as the Second-Class Citizenship, also known as Bill C-24: Canadian citizens being stripped of citizenship, using the umbrella of terrorism as justification.
Next up, we have Brian Jean, 54: last leader of the Wildrose Party, MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin, MP for Athabasca (2004-2006) and Fort McMurray, Athabasca (2006-2014), Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (2006-2011), and the Leader of the the Official Opposition in Alberta (2015-present day). His platform panel includes these headlined issues: “Here for Education,” “Fixing Equalization: Standing up for Alberta,” “Here for Patients: 2030 Vision for the Healthcare System,” “Here for Victims of the Vulnerable,” “Protecting Freedom and Democracy,” and “Rebuilding the Alberta Advantage.”
What do these policies entail? “Here for Education” focuses on the protection of parental rights. In his report, Jean states that he wants to “[p]rotect parental choice as a fundamental right and cornerstone” and “[r]everese any ideological curriculum changes the NDP made” while ensuring that a diversity of institutions exist. Another standpoint of his is “Fixing Equalization for Albertans.” Jean is advocating for a referendum for equalization in order to ensure that the federal government negotiates fairer deals for Alberta, and he strongly supports the fight for pipelines “in all directions.” This furthermore validates his slogan that his platform is “Here for Albertans!”
Finally, we have 38-year-old Doug Schweitzer, our last candidate running in the leadership race. He was a party member of the Progressive Conservatives as well as a Calgary lawyer. He was also CEO of the Manitoba PC party (2008-2009) and the campaign manager of Jim Prentice. He is often referred to as “not a career politician.”
Schweitzer’s view on some policies entails massive cuts to Alberta’s corporate and personal income tax rates, eliminating the province’s carbon levy, and cutting salaries of the public sector. Schweitzer calls himself “a moderate on social issues.” He wants to keep our minimum wage the same as it is now because Albertans will lose 25,000 jobs, according to a report from the C.D. Howe Institute (“Thinking about Minimum Wage Increases in Alberta Theoretically, Empirically, and Regionally”). Schweitzer demands: “[w]hy on earth would the United Conservative Party keep the NDP’s $15/hour minimum wage in 2019?” Additionally, his vision for education heavily focuses on parental choice, student wellness, and gay-straight alliances amongst other things. Also, Schweitzer says “the new United Conservative Party won’t be a credible voice for fiscal management if it can’t keep its caucus out of a projected $337,000 deficit this year.” He advocates change in his #NewBlue vision: “A New Candidate for a Modern Alberta.”
We now know what the United Conservative Party is: a simple party merger between the Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives. Who will win? Will it be Jean? Schweitzer? Kenny? With the leadership race just weeks away and the end of both parties, we are looking forward to what the future holds!