Both the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative Parties voted 95% in favour of merging to create the United Conservative Party. The UCP will be missing Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Dr. Richard Starke, who announced he will not join the new party via Facebook.
In the statement Dr. Starke says, “I have no way of knowing whether the leadership and policies of the new party will align with the values and principles I ran and was elected on. Without certainty in that knowledge I cannot, in good conscience, sit as a member of that party.”
He adds, “I have informed the Speaker and the Legislative Assembly Office of my intentions. 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 endeavor.”
Vermilion-Lloydminster Wildrose Candidate Danny Hozack has voiced his support for unity and says he wasn’t surprised but relieved with the results of the vote.
“As you know, elections are strange things and even if you think you have a sense of the way it’s going , it sometimes can surprise you.”
The United Conservative Party will be busy in the coming months. An interim leader will be picked today. The next step is to pick a permanent leader. Currently there are three nominees, PC leader Jason Kenney, Wildrose leader Brian Jean, and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer. Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt also appears to be interested.
Hozack says his support will go to the candidate that best represents his priorities.
“One of the number one things on our list of priorities is going to be recall.”
He adds, “the idea that [the elected officials] got four years and they can do whatever they darn well like, irrespective of what they campaigned on doesn’t hold them to account.”
“We’re not ruling out supporting Brian [Jean] but we’re certainly not saying ‘oh he’s a Wildrose, we’re voting for him.’ This is a new day, it’s a new party and quite frankly I think we need to, as a group, sit down and say who do you think would best serve all of us.”
In total, 27,060 from the PC Party came out to vote with 25,692 in favour of unity. For the Wildrose Party, 24,598 ballots were cast with 23,466 saying yes to unity.