EDMONTON — MP Jason Kenney says his plan for a united right in Alberta includes a new party that would hold a leadership race before the next provincial election.
Kenney made it clear at a news conference in Edmonton that he isn't interested in the Progressive Conservatives or the Opposition Wildrose taking each other over.
His idea is that each party would hold a referendum on whether to approve the union before a new party was formed.
"Albertans will not accept secret, backroom deals that dictate what kind of democratic choice we have,'' he said Thursday. "That is why I am offering this grassroots guarantee to make it absolutely clear that a new, united party will only be created if approved by a clear majority of grassroots party members in a fair open referendum.
"This grassroots democracy is absolutely non-negotiable.''
"Albertans will not accept secret, backroom deals that dictate what kind of democratic choice we have."
Kenny announced in Calgary on Wednesday that he will seek the leadership of the Alberta Tories with the intent of bringing together small-c conservatives to defeat the NDP government.
The former Conservative cabinet minister said in Edmonton he would also let his name stand in any race to pick a leader for a newly formed party. He said he anticipates that leadership run would come in the winter of 2017-18.
He also said he'll give up his federal seat on Oct. 1 — the day the Tory leadership race officially begins. A new leader is to be picked March 18.
Kenney noted that other MPs have stayed on while seeking leadership roles, but he is going to "depart from that convention to clearly demonstrate how committed I am to this project of uniting Albertans.
"For me there is no going back.''
"This grassroots democracy is absolutely non-negotiable."
Kenney said he believes people want a clear plan on how to steer Alberta's two right-leaning parties back onto the same road and that they are waiting for leadership on how that could be achieved.
He also offered assurances that everyone would be heard.
"Those who are concerned or skeptical about unity will have a voice. I understand the legitimate concerns ... and we don't want to shut down diversity of opinions about free-enterprise politics in Alberta.''
He repeated his attack from a day earlier on the Alberta New Democrats for what he called their "reckless economic mismanagement'' and warned that a vote split between separate PC and Wildrose parties could lead to the NDP being reelected in 2019.
"A second NDP term would do irreversible damage to the entrepreneurial spirit ... of the province,'' he said.
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