July 25, 2017 12:52 pm
Updated: July 25, 2017 3:43 pm

United Conservative Party becomes official opposition, selects caucus leadership team

Sun, Jul 23: The old PC party that dominated Alberta politics for four decades is winding down. Now, the overwhelming show of the support for the unification of the Wildrose and PC parties is leaving many questions about policy and who will lead the new United Conservative party.

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The new United Conservative Party (UCP) has been recognized as the official Opposition in Alberta.

A letter from the speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta made the change official Tuesday afternoon.

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“The United Conservative Caucus has the largest number of opposition seats and therefore is recognized as the official Opposition Caucus in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta,” Robert Wanner wrote. “Nathan Cooper, the MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills is recognized as the leader of the official Opposition.”

READ MORE: New Alberta conservative party meets, but loses caucus member

Meantime, the UCP has decided on its interim caucus leadership.

The team will be made up of deputy leader Mike Ellis, house leader Richard Gotfried and caucus whips Jason Nixon and Prasad Panda.

“Our united caucus is now stronger and more motivated than ever,” interim party leader Nathan Cooper said.

“This is a great day to be a conservative in Alberta, and our best days are yet to come.”

LISTEN: Interim Leader Nathan Cooper on next steps for the United Conservative Party

On Monday, Cooper was selected as interim leader by 22 members of the Wildrose and seven Tories.

Cooper will remain in the position until a permanent leader is selected Oct. 28.

Brian Jean, Jason Kenney and conservative strategist Doug Schweitzer have already indicated they will run in the leadership race.

READ MORE: A new day in Alberta politics as United Conservative Party emerges

While an interim leadership team has been named and MLAs are throwing their hats in the leadership race, Elections Alberta said Tuesday morning that the UCP has not yet registered as an official party.

“They have to provide us with a registration form, which would detail their information as far as the name of the party, abbreviation, the leader, banking information and principal authors of that party,” chief electoral officer Glenn Resler said.

The party name has been reserved with Elections Alberta, and Resler expects the registration papers within the week. Once received, those would take about a day to process.
As for the existing Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties, Resler said it will be up to the leaders of the previous parties as to whether they will continue to exist.

“If they are still fully compliant with the legislation, they can still exist,” he said. “It will be up to the new party to decide what the status of those are.”

The UCP was created after 95 per cent of both Wildrose and Progressive Conservative members voted on Saturday to unite the parties.

With files from Travis Dosser, iNews880

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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