Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and newly-elected Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney are meeting this afternoon in Edmonton to discuss taking the first steps towards creating a united conservative party in Alberta.
But it appears the two men have to overcome a fundamental disagreement over what that new party should look like.
Jean wants the unified party to be formed under the Wildrose legal framework. Kenney wants to dissolve the Wildrose and PC parties to form a brand new party.
Prior to the meeting, Kenney said he wanted the talks to have no conditions or rules beyond letting members from both parties approve a merger agreement.
“Well that is a rule in itself, isn’t it?” Jean replied when asked about Kenney’s conditions for talks. “I am walking into this meeting with an open mind and I’m hoping that we’ll have a good constructive meeting and be able to discuss all of those things that are extremely important to our members, our executive and our members.”
Jean and Kenney have different timelines for how long the process should take.
Jean says he wants to see a leadership race for a united conservative party before Oct. 15. He said the governing NDP could call a vote as early as next year.
Kenney has laid out a longer timeline with a leadership race occurring after the united party holds a founding convention in November.
An agreement reached by both parties would have to be approved by the grassroots. The Wildrose requires approval by 75 per cent of members.
Both men have said they will run for the leadership of this new party.
Wildrose MLAs Drew Barnes and Angela PItt say they are open to pursuing an agreement with the PCs.
“The sense and direction I’ve been given is to do whatever we can to pursue a unity agreement for the betterment of Alberta and the conservative movement here in this province,” Pitt said.
Barnes said Wildrose owes it to Albertans to see if some kind of agreement can be reached.