Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said he’s received a clear message from Albertans that conservatives in the province should “pursue unity.”
“When I issued my challenge for conservatives to come together shortly after the last election, I said that we would need to put egos aside for the greater good—that personal self-interest must never come before Alberta,” Jean said in a video released Thursday afternoon.
“And that’s why I am announcing today, that if our members approve a unity agreement with the PC Party, I am prepared to stand down as leader of the Wildrose and to seek the leadership of our single, principled, conservative party in a race to be conducted this summer.”
Jean’s announcement came just hours after PC leadership candidate Richard Starke proposed a plan for the PCs and Wildrose to work together in the 2019 election while functioning as two separate parties and six months after Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Jason Kenney launched his aggressive “Unite the Right” campaign.
Watch below: With PC leadership candidate Jason Kenney campaigning on a platform to merge his party with the Wildrose, there has been growing talk about the potential to unite-the-right in Alberta politics. On Thursday, Wildrose leader Brian Jean signalled he is now open to the idea after being cool to merger talks earlier. Fletcher Kent reports.
Currently, the Wildrose holds 22 seats in the Alberta legislature, the NDP have a majority with 55 seats and the PCs hold eight seats.
READ MORE: Unite the right poll – Albertans prefer Brian Jean to Jason Kenney as leader
Jean pledged to “defeat NDP MLAs in every region of Alberta” and said he plans to be the province’s next premier.
Watch below from July 29: Former Federal Conservative Cabinet Minister Jason Kenney joined Global Calgary with details on how he plans to unite the right in Alberta.
In the seven-minute video, Jean said if the PC members select a “dance partner that we’ve been looking for” the party must move forward “governed by the grassroots.”
“We must remember that the members will decide the name for Alberta’s conservative movement.”
He asked for feedback on the proposal to unify conservatives and described a “shared vision” that included putting personal gain aside. He also said a new leader must be selected soon.
“Our party must never be a home for cronies who want to use government and politics for their own personal gain. In the last election, Albertans soundly rejected those who put personal ambition ahead of principles.”
Jean said he will be travelling across the province to hold town halls with his team over the next few months to solicit feedback and “seek a clear mandate.”
“I believe in my heart that this is the right thing to do.”
In the PC Party leadership race, Starke is running against Kenney and Byron Nelson.
Stephen Khan had also been running, but announced he was ending his campaign and throwing his support behind Starke late on Thursday night.
Kenney said he was always optimistic Jean would embrace the idea of unity.
“I’m delighted to hear of my friend Brian Jean’s statement today, clearly opening the door to the unity we’ve been advocating for for the past half-year. This demonstrates real leadership on Brian’s part.”
Watch below: Alberta PC leadership candidate Jason Kenney said he was delighted to hear “this great news” from Wildrose Leader Brian Jean about a potential unified party.
“Seven months ago, I launched a campaign to unite Albertans so that we could have one united free enterprise alternative at the next election to ensure the defeat of this destructive NDP government,” he said on the steps of the legislature Thursday. “I’ve heard a huge and growing demand for unity… And I’m pleased to see that demand for unity increasingly reflected in the decisions being made by grassroots Progressive Conservatives in our party’s leadership election.”
Kenney reiterated Jean’s position was “great news.”
“Should I be honoured with a mandate from Progressive Conservatives by winning that party’s leadership on March 18, with a mandate to unite, I look forward to sitting down immediately with Brian and my friends in the Wildrose Party to begin working out the details of an agreement in principle for the creation of one big, broad, tolerant, diverse, sensible, free enterprise party.”
His only pre-condition for those negotiations?
“That the grassroots gets to decide.”
Watch below: ‘I hope Brian will run for that leadership’: Jason Kenney
Jean is scheduled to provide more details of his plan on Global News Morning Friday.
Watch below: Richard Starke suggests plan for Alberta PCs and Wildrose to work together
With files from Emily Mertz, Global News