Q: What is the state of the Wildrose Party and where do they stand on a possible merger with the PC Party?
A: The state of the party is the best it has been since I have been around. I have been in the party since the beginning. The bank account is full. We are happy with our polling numbers. With that said, we recognize the PC Party is going through a transition and they have an individual who looks like he is going to win their leadership race. He has been clear he would like unify the PC and Wildrose parties. How the unity gets done is up for debate.
Our party has said for over a year that our children’s future is too much to gamble on this NDP government. We are willing to sit down and talk with the PC party. With that said, and I want to make this clear, we have always said it would be up to our membership. They will make the final decision. That is what Mr. [Brian] Jean is saying – if the PC gives us a dancing partner, we will go to our membership to see if they want to dance.
Q: The Wildrose Party was once a break off Party from the PC party. Is there enough common ground to rejoin?
A: Every MLA of the Wildrose Party used to be PC members. Essentially the Ralph Klein portion of the party left the PC party during the Alison Redford era due to financial scandals and you name it. So I do believe there is quite a bit of common ground between what is left of the PC Party and the Wildrose Party. With that said, what is very critical and what Brian Jean has been clear on, is that whatever comes out of this has to be a grass roots structured party just like the Wildrose Party. The instructions I have been getting from my constituents have been clear on that. We’re not interested in joining the PC Party but we’re willing to work with them on a big-tent alternative for the people of Alberta.
Q: If there was a merger put in place, are in you in support of Brian Jean’s leadership for the new party?
A: Brian Jean has been a great leader for the Wildrose Party. I am proud of him for taking the great risk to his own job. He’s doing that because he cares about the people of Alberta and the next generation. As the leader of my party, I stand 100 percent behind him. The hypothetical of what comes next is hard to determine. Right now I have a great elected leader but we will see what comes out of the next couple months. We don’t know who will be in the race but I think Brian would be an excellent Premier. At the same time, there are other people that may come forward and I don’t want to discourage them – I think it’s great for Albertan’s to have a choice. Ultimately, I think most people are pretty happy with what Brian Jean has done for the Wildrose Party.
Q: Does part of the potential merger with the PC Party have to do with wanting a spot of leadership in the new party?
A: I think this is in reaction to two things. We have an NDP Party in power that is wreaking havoc on our province. Something needs to happen so they not only lose the next election, but also that they never win an election again in this province. I think the reaction is to guarantee that. Let me be clear, we feel that we can win the next election without the PC party if that’s what we have to do but people are telling us ‘no let’s make sure it is a 100 percent guarantee.’
Secondly, the PC’s are about to elect a dance partner who wants to talk about unity. Brian Jean was the first person to talk about unity – he did it about a year and half ago. The PC’s at that time outright rejected that discussion. Along comes Mr. Kenney and now he wants to have that discussion. So I don’t think it’s a reaction to him, I think it’s the PCs reacting to our original offer.
Q: Would leadership of a combined right be something you’re interested in?
A: I’m a young man and I still have young kids so that’s one of the factors I would have to consider, is whether or not I have the time to give that a run. I don’t think I am running for leader in the next election, although I will not rule out that I will ever run for leadership. It’s a possibility for one year, but I don’t think it will be for the 2019 election.
Q: Do you have anything else you would like to add?
A: To be clear. This is about our grass roots, members of our party and the PC party. We’re making sure they’re making the decision. There will be no back room deals on this. We will continue to work hard to make sure our members have a choice. I have town halls booked through Rimbey, Rocky Mountain House and Sundre so I can hear from the people of my constituency and I always take my instructions from them. I look forward to hearing what those instructions are and we will just facilitate the conversation.