Jason Kenney and Brian Jean were all smiles for the media early last week.
But while there’s a prospect of a merger between the PC Party and the Wildrose Party, who’s going to step forward and offer an olive branch to make it a reality?
Jason Kenney, of course, was made the leader of the PC Party at their convention in Calgary on March 18.
Two days later, Kenney met with Jean in Edmonton for an informal meeting. The media was excluded and only Kenney appeared at the end of their discussions to give his upbeat assessment.
We can speculate about the particulars of their meeting. Some will no doubt say that a great void separates the two party leaders and that each wants to control the direction of right-wing politics in Alberta.
Others will say that a merger is simply out of the question and that the two parties and their masters are ideologically incompatible with each other – and the electorate for that matter.
But although Kenney has become the PC leader, he has to win a seat in the legislature. At the moment, he’s on the outside looking in.
Then there’s some diplomacy that Jean will have to engage in, to appeal to the PC Party and its members.
Earlier this year, Jean pronounced in a video, the best way forward is consolidation under the Wildrose Party. You can bet the PCs are going to take him to task over that.
There are also the legal hurdles that a potential merger will have to overcome.
A group of lawyers has released a document, entitled ‘Removing the Legal Roadblocks’, that indicates a merger is possible.
In a report by the Calgary Herald on March 20, Andy Crooks, the former chairperson of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, made that pronouncement.
“We have concluded that a merger can be done,” said Crooks. “Moreover, it is our opinion it can be done without the consent of the chief electoral officer.”
However, the Herald report also noted that Elections Alberta has said there is no legal mechanism to merge provincial political parties and provincial law forbids transferring assets between two parties.
It goes on to say that the lawyers involved with the document acknowledge, only the Wildrose Party is a registered society and the PC Party would have to register or try to amalgamate through the PCAA Foundation, which is a non-profit corporation in Alberta.
Regardless, it is certainly time for both parties to set aside their ideological differences and begin the process to establish a new, centralized right-wing political force in Alberta.
The process must be transparent, with no backroom dealing permitted. Those involved with the negotiations will have to demonstrate sincerely, that they have the membership’s best interests at heart.
That will be the only way to win their trust, and the trust of the public in general.
And process must begin now, so that, by the time of the next provincial election in 2019, they can defeat Premier Rachel Notley and her left-wing NDP government.