MLA Pat Stier (C. Davis file photo)
"We believe the NDP Government is doing a lot of damage in Alberta and we do not want to see them succeed in getting a second term in the next election," said Stier. "We are hoping to open our arms and entertain conversions from our Progressive Conservative friends and try to build a bigger conservative team here in Alberta." In May of this year the Progressive Conservatives held their annual convention, with results that were disappointing to Stier. "We are not really sure what happened there, but the people who went, they voted not to proceed in any way with any conversations with us in that regard. We were quite disappointed with that, because we felt we needed to hear what they had to say and have these conversations to move toward some sort of initiative to get a broader based conservative party going here in Alberta, whether it is under our name or whatever."
"Our numbers are amazing right now. We are leading the polls, substantially. We are going to carry on despite what they have said, and move forward as the Wildrose Party tends to do, and keep on serving Albertans." Recent polls show the Wildrose ahead by a significant margin, with the NDP and PC parties vying for second place. Stier cited a June poll that indicated 39% approval for the Wildrose, 23% for the PCs, and 21% for the governing NDP. "If we were to have an election today, according to this poll, Wildrose would get 64 seats." There are 87 seats in the Alberta Legislature.
"Mr. Kenney comes along, and leaves the conservative federal party, and decides yesterday he is going withdraw and not be a member of Parliament in October."
"Were standing by to see what's going on, but while we are standing by on that front we are carrying on with our goals and ambitions and strategies, and we are forging ahead to be the new government in '19, despite what they're doing. They don't have a leader over there right now, so we are going to have to wait to see what they do. It remains unclear just who is going to run there."
"We will be waiting to see who we will be dealing with in the future, if we are dealing with anybody at all."
"I think there's a lot of people who are labeling this new venture as 'Unite the Right', Stier continued. "We believe we need to have a stronger conservative voice, and there should only be one conservative voice in Alberta. In our opinion, we think it should be the Wildrose, or whoever intends to join us. If it comes to be that a new name comes forward as a result of a larger picture that we put together here in the next little while, that's fine, too."
According to Stier, the Wildrose Party is willing to listen to the PCs toward that end. "Whether it is Mr. Kenney, or Mr. Starkey, or Mr. Griffith coming out of the historical days, we will see, and talk to them then. Meanwhile we are forging ahead with developing our party, and we are embracing all of the conservatives who come to us. We are seeing increased numbers all of the time, and a lot of them are previous PC members, that's for sure."
"If he (Jason Kenney) does succeed at being the new leader, we'll hopefully hear what he has to to say at that in time."
"Mr. Kenney is a very experienced man. He has a lot of credits to his name, and has been thought of as the future runner up to be Prime Minister at some point in time. It seems to be now though, that he no longer wants to part of the Federal scene, and he wants to come back to Alberta. I don't blame him there. He has put in a lot of years there, and he certainly has drive and initiatives, and energy we haven't seen around the PC party for a long time, from what I read in the paper and have seen in the media. I wish him well with what he decides to do and look forward to seeing how that is going to pan out for him. It's not going to be an easy road because he is promoting talking to the Wildrose and having a merger, despite what his executive committee for the PC party here in Alberta decided, just a few weeks ago."
"What happens within the PC Party... we will watch from the sidelines and see how that goes, but in the meantime, we are forging ahead."
"If at the end of the day in Alberta we end up with a large conservative force to take on the NDP in the next election, it'll a good thing."
"We want to ensure the NDP does not get an opportunity to become a second term government here in the future. I'm looking to see a large single conservative party in Alberta, if possible. Hopefully those people in that party will be based on Wildrose principles and policies, which I think are the best suite of policies for Albertans in the near future."
Stier said the Wildrose Party is preparing for their own constituency association convention, to be held in the fall of this year. "We are going through a policy update process right at the moment within our party."
Stier also expressed his continued support for Wildrose leader Brian Jean. He spoke of the hardships Jean has faced in the last couple of years, including the death of his son, assuming the Wildrose leadership mantle at a time when the party's future was in question after the 2014 defection of then-leader Danielle Smith and 8 other Wildrose MLAs, contesting a snap election shortly after that, and losing his home in the Fort McMurray fire. "As far as leader approval goes, the latest polls show Brian at 56(%), Notley at 38, McGyver at 33, so things are really moving along well in Brian's situation, as it should. Look at what he did during the Fort McMurray fire and standing up for his residents the way he did. His own home burned, and he kept a stiff upper lip and kept going. That's showing leadership. Having the ability to make decisions even during the most difficult of times is what leadership is all about and I think Brian showed that, in spades."
"At this moment, he's the guy. There's no one else for me at this moment in time. If someone comes along in the future and there is a new leadership race within our party, to be held for whatever reason, I would still be supporting Brian."
Stier also re-asserted that he has no party leadership aspirations of his own ( I say re-asserted because I ask him this question at least once a year). "There is something about me... I'm the guy with the pencil above his ear and sleeves rolled up and trying to get things accomplished. I'm a guy with a huge riding, and it is hard to fit all that in and be a leader. I don't think that would be what's best for our large constituency." He cited his "strong personal background in municipal politics, in the oil and gas sector and agriculture," saying "I'm going to continue to make use of my skills and experience in that regard."
"The focus for me right now with all the different things that are going on, like the Municipal Government Act Review, that are upon us now, is to concentrate on that and do the best job I can for the opposition on that file."
"There is so much happening here, it is getting pretty exciting."
Stier said he doesn't anticipate another large-scale floor crossing event in Alberta's future. "I think we have all seen how that turns out."
"That was probably the last we have seen of that for, I would expect, for most of my lifetime. We'll never see it again."
*corrected for accuracy