Jason Kenney is accusing unions and activists on the left of trying to undermine the new United Conservative Party.
The Progressive Conservative Party (PC) leader told News Talk 770’s Rob Breakenridge that he has seen evidence that a local of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, as well as others gunning for a NDP victory in the next election, have been buying memberships in the PC and Wildrose parties.
“[Sunday], somebody sent me a memo that came out from a political engagement committee of a local of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, encouraging their members to sign up specifically with the Wildrose Party, to vote in the upcoming referendum and the subsequent leadership,” Kenney told Rob Breakenridge.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association said it encourages its members to get involved in the political process and has teachers of all different political views in its organization.
“For (Kenney) to consider the only teachers that would buy a membership would be left-wing NDP members, that is grossly overstated,” said Mark Ramsankar, president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. “For a gentleman who is trying to build a big tent organization uniting the right – is he questioning whether he wants teachers involved?”
Kenney said he doesn’t know how organized it has been, but said it’s “pretty clear” there is an effort on the left to influence the referendum.
“Let me just put it this way; if you’re a big union boss and you’re doing pretty well with the NDP, you want to keep the gravy train running,” he said. “You want to avoid conservatives uniting because the only way the NDP has any realistic prospect of re-election, is if conservatives are divided.”
LISTEN: Jason Kenney alleges effort by NDP supporters to undermine conservative unity
The Alberta NDP denied its members have had anything to do with an attempt to undermine the unity effort.
“We certainly aren’t involved in any attempts to buy memberships in the Progressive Conservative Party,” said Roari Richardson, provincial secretary for the Alberta NDP.
LISTEN: Alberta NDP responds to allegations NDP supporters are trying to undermine United Conservative Party
“When it comes to memberships in our party, you can’t be a member of another party and be a member of the New Democrats.”
“It makes me chuckle a little bit. We’re not engaged in that in any way.”
Kenney said he is aware of the rules around NDP membership, but that it would be difficult for the party to police.
“Of course, there’s a constituency of people who are more broadly on the left that might not be NDP members but who have a political interest in preventing unity amongst conservatives,” he added.
“I’m not condemning them,” he added. “I’m saying the response is for free-enterprise Albertans to get involved too.”
The Wildrose Party had not responded to News Talk 770’s request for comment by publication time.
The Wildrose and PC party members will vote on the new United Conservative Party on July 22.
READ BELOW: Memo from Political Engagement Committee, Rocky View Local #35
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