Richard Starke is giving serious thought to a run at the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party.
The Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA has said he is anticipating a very “energetic and robust” leadership campaign for the party, which will culminate in a vote for the leadership this coming March. As for the entrance of federal MP Jason Kenney to the race, Starke said he thinks Kenney will meet the requirements needed to pursue the leadership.
“He, I suspect, will not be alone, and I’m sure there are others that will step forward and set out their vision for the future of our party as well, and then the decision will be left in the hands of our members, as it should be,” said Starke.
Starke said it was not a case of neutrality, when asked about his views on Kenney’s entrance to the race.
“It’s a case of if you adhere to the idea having an open party, anyone who meets the requirements can throw their hat into the ring, and that’s what Mr.Kenney had done,” said Starke.
“He had set out a certain set of objectives that I think are ones that people are going to have to consider very carefully, because they’re not the ones that the party indicated they wanted to follow in May, but that’s what politics is all about.”
The central idea which Kenney has been pushing has been a merger between the PC’s and the Wildrose Party, creating a provincial version of the Conservative Party of Canada. He spoke about the idea on Wednesday night in Grande Prairie, arguing the current NDP government is spending too much time on political ideology, and believes getting support for a united party will be easy.
“Which was created 13 years ago from a merger of the Reform Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party,” said Kenney.
“People can look at our record to see what that was: we won three elections and we were the longest-serving Conservative government in the 20th century.”
Starke disagrees with the proposal. He said the majority of PC party members he has spoken with have been not in favour of a merger, and want to focus on rebuilding the party.
“It is a different party from Wildrose, and Mr.Kenney feels he can fashion some form of merger between the two parties,” said Starke.
“That is his vision, not mine.”
As for an eventual run at the leadership himself, Starke said he has been considering the idea.
“My approach on that question has been unchanged for the last fourteen months, to the day,” said Starke.
“When asked, I’ve said I am seriously considering contesting the leadership, yes. If you’re asking if I’m announcing my candidacy, I am going to say not today, no.”
The PC party will elect a new leader to replace interim Ric McIver at a convention on March 18th, 2017. If chosen, Kenney says he’s get a conversation going with Wildrose leader Brian Jean.
(With files from Erica Fisher, 104.7 2day FM)