July 23, 2017 2:00 pm

Alberta’s stuttering conservative movement takes a step toward the future

Alberta Wildrose leader Brian Jean and Alberta PC leader Jason Kenney shake hands after announcing a unity deal between the two in Edmonton on May 18, 2017.

Jason Franson/Canadian Press
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That Alberta would be represented on the national stage by a conservative government and colourful Premier was as predictable as chinooks in the winter.

That Alberta would elect a New Democratic Party government led by a Premier whose sundry pronouncements raise faint echoes of the Bob Rae years in Ontario, causing that province’s collective neck hair to leap to attention in a hardwired fight-or-flight response, was unimaginable.

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Yet there we were last evening awaiting results of the political version of marriage counselling. Would Alberta’s right take its first resolute step toward reclaiming its suddenly wobbly stewardship of the province?

READ MORE: Alberta politicians blast Kenney campaign; demand stricter spending, transparency

Of course it did so, with both Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean and his Progressive Conservative rival Jason Kenney cheering their respective followers’ decision to support the creation of the United Conservative Party of Alberta.

United? Eventually.

First though, some bloody noses as Jean and Kenney will savage each others’ qualifications to rescue Alberta from the clutches of Team Notley.

PC strategist Doug Schweitzer will make a case for himself, and Derek Fildebrandt has already lunged at his former leader Brian Jean without confirming his intent to actually enter the ring.

Kenney will note that Stephen Harper trusted him with senior portfolios federally, while Jean can make a case for stabilizing Wildrose following Danielle Smith’s departure to the ranks of the PCs.

Whatever the end result, the interim clashes will be entertaining. Politicians only grovel while applying for gigs.

By October’s end, we will know the identity of the survivor/leader and the party will be able to take the first steps toward being united.

READ MORE: United Conservative Party: Alberta’s Wildrose, PCs agree to merge

Meanwhile, the third province to the east of Alberta is already lurching toward its vote next year with badly faltering Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne practically promising an electric car in every driveway and a thousand-year hydro loan extension to pay to charge the things.

Poll favourite Patrick Brown of the Progressive Conservatives is remarkable mostly for his — well, I don’t really know what Mr. Brown is remarkable for — and the NDP’s Andrea Horwath will have to reappear from the missing-persons list.

We could keep going and point to Ottawa, where in 2019 Canadians will have to decide between Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer and Tom Mulcair’s eventual successor as leader of the New Democrat flock.

I’m not sure whether the better move is to pen an original political obituary for Mr. Trudeau, or just borrow the highlights from his Fidel Castro inspirational. Andrew Scheer has just begun to follow the rock-solid Rona Ambrose, but his move to install Lisa Raitt as deputy leader of the CPC is a solid play.

British Columbia remains in the picture, as that province’s electorate will be handed pencil and pad before the next scheduled vote.

The forced marriage of the New Democrats and the Greens will follow the examples of other marriages of political convenience as John Horgan and Andrew Weaver hope to smile at the same announcements just long enough to make a positive impression on voters.

READ MORE: ‘This is do or die’: Jason Kenney rallies supporters as conservative unity vote nears

The next two to three years in Canadian politics is entirely unpredictable.

In the short term, though, stand by three months of Jean vs. Kenney vs. Schweitzer vs. Fildebrandt — and all of them, sooner than later, vs. Denis Coderre.

 

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