To the Editor:
The Progressive Conservative Party (PC) and the Wildrose Party (WRP) are engaged in talks to unite conservatives into one political entity. Presumably the proposed talks are based upon the commonly held belief that all conservatives conform to the same universal principles and values. In reality, the contrast of integrity, values and behaviour between the two political parties is starkly dissimilar.
Jason Kenney announced his intention to run for the leadership of the PC Party on an agenda to pursue unity. Agree with him or disagree with him, Kenney debated this agenda during the PC leadership campaign and when the votes were tallied, the PC membership spoke. They gave Kenney a democratic mandate to pursue an agenda of unification.
In contrast, Brian Jean campaigned for the Wildrose leadership and not once did he inform the WRP membership that if he were elected, he would seek to change the party name, or possibly disband the party by entering into an agreement with the PC Party to unify. However, eight months after he was elected, Jean registered a non-profit society called the “Conservative Party of Alberta Association,” to pursue his agenda. He did this in secret!
Currently the WRP executive is rapidly holding nomination races for existing MLAs on the premise that they will not have to participate in a democratic nomination process if and when a new unity party is formed. Apparently, the membership of the new party will have no say in this matter.
In a couple of recent bizarre decisions the WRP executive council has revoked an individual’s WRP membership for, “Intending to attempt” to seek a PC party nomination, while actively engaged in unity talks to merge with the PCs. They have also approved Jean’s appointment of Ontario resident, Arthur Hamilton, to represent the WRP members in unity talks. “Intending to attempt” is an odd if not incoherent allegation to deny membership to anyone. However, the appointment of Hamilton to represent the membership is an unconscionable violation of the WRP constitution. The WRP constitution is incisively explicit. Only the WRP membership can authorize or appoint its representative.
Jean and the WRP executive have the authority to conduct normal day-to-day business between AGMs. They cannot engage in, or appoint anyone to represent the membership in unity or merger talks before first obtaining the consent of the WRP membership. What Jean and the WRP executive are doing is usurping authority that was never granted.
The proposition to unite conservatives is honourable and possibly a worthwhile venture. To claim that both parties in these negotiations share the same core values is inaccurate if one considers the actions of both entities. One participant and entity has shown respect for the democratic process and has conducted its actions accordingly. The other is Brian Jean and the Wildrose executive.