Alberta PC MLA Richard Starke quits conservative coalition; isn’t on board with merger

Richard Starke throws his hat into the race for Alberta PC leadership Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Tom Vernon, Global News

An Alberta MLA, who ran to be leader of the Progressive Conservative party earlier this year, will not join the new United Conservative Party.

In a statement on Facebook, Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke said he joined the PCs to embrace the values of progressive conservatism espoused by former premier Peter Lougheed.

He said it’s become clear to him that people who value those ideals are not welcome in the new party.

“My experience, and that of many like-minded party members who have left or been driven from the party, is that our views are not welcome, and that the values and principles we believe in will not be part of the new party going forward,” Starke wrote.

READ MORE: Alberta PC leadership candidate Richard Starke wants PCs and Wildrose to work together

In an interview with 630 CHED, Starke said the PC executive had been told by leader Jason Kenney that an executive committee would be created to advise the PC’s bargaining unit through the UCP negotiations. Starke said that committee never came to be.

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“I indicated to the transition team and to the new leader that I was very interested in taking part in that and I was told that I would be a part of that group,” he said. “That group was never constituted and never met.”

Starke said that move reinforced a distrust he had in Kenney, but Starke plans to stay a PC member.

“I’m a Progressive Conservative Party member as long as that party exists.”

Staying a PC member may not be possible

Under Elections Alberta legislation the two parties cannot truly merge. They both must de-register and create a new party.

“If the Progressive Conservative Party was de-registered then it wouldn’t have the capacity for a MLA to sit, so he’d have to sit as an independent then,” Elections Alberta CEO Glen Resler said.

Right now there have been no moves to de-register either party, according to Resler.

LISTEN: Richard Starke tells 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen his plans after the PCs and Wildrose merge

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Starke was unsuccessful earlier this year in his bid to be leader of the PC party. He wanted the PCs and the Wildrose party to work together in the 2019 election but continue to function as two separate parties with leaders and two caucuses.

“I have informed the Speaker and the Legislative Assembly Office of my intentions,” Starke wrote.

“My first responsibility remains unchanged-to represent the people of Vermilion-Lloydminster with the commitment and integrity they deserve. I am honoured to continue this endeavour.”

Over the weekend, members of the Wildrose party and the PCs voted overwhelmingly to join forces in time for the next election in 2019.

— With files from Scott Johnston and Kirby Bourne, 630 CHED and the Canadian Press

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