July 12th, 2024

Sailing anything but smooth in days ahead for the UCP

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on July 28, 2017.

It may have happened a week ago but people are still talking about it.

The vote was 95 per cent in favour of collapsing the PC and Wildrose parties with members grouping under a new banner — the United Conservative Party (UCP).

Let’s face it: 95 per cent in any political vote is what we have come to associate with countries in Africa, where a dictator announces he has won again regardless of what international scrutineers say. Instantly what comes to mind is Robert Mugabe, 93, president of Zimbabwe for 30 years.

Kudos to the membership of the PC and Wildrose for sending such a clear message. If only we would get that kind of consensus in a general election in Alberta.

The vision Jason Kenney began to impart last winter may have had a lukewarm reception initially but it was blazing hot in the end. It is not all smooth sailing for the UCP from here though. There are more hurdles to jump over.

Even the interim leader was being questioned about his past political position on a number of issues, after Health Minister Sarah Hoffman did not miss an opportunity to attack the opposition that is threateningly close. There will be plenty more attacks like that as the NDP pull out all the stops in an attempt to derail any momentum the UCP will gain in the runup to the next election.

The choice of UCP leader will play an enormous role in keeping members, attracting new members, and building bridges over the political divide. Some party members slogged away for years for the Wildrose or PCs and considered the other party the enemy. It will be a challenge to draw them in.

The leader of the UCP is critical. If they choose the former Wildrose leader the former PC members, struggling with the realization that their party no longer exists, will no doubt say the UCP is too far right politically. Choose the former PC leader and the Wildrose members could say it does not represent their views. It will take a very special person to build bridges and soothe troubled waters.

So far the challenges have been around convincing party members of the need to unite the two parties. To sell the same message to the general public, who after all are the voters in the next provincial election, is a different kettle of fish all together.

For the next six months there is a packed agenda. A constitution and policies need to be established that will steer a course most will approve of.

Many thought Kenney’s agenda six months ago was rather lofty but he pulled it off. The next six months may also roll out as planned.

(Gillian Slade is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions or call her at 403-528-8635.)

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