Now that we have unity, it’s time to get to work

Drayton-Devon MLA Mark Smith says unity vote was historic

This will be a day that goes down in the history books of our great province.

On this day, conservatives of various stripes put their differences aside and united for the greater good of Albertans.

This was truly a victory for the people of this province and the democratic process.

Tens of thousands of Albertans bought memberships and voted to ratify an agreement bringing the Wildrose and PC parties together. The decision was overwhelming. On both sides, 95 per cent of members said yes to unity, a massive mandate to move forward.

Members have driven this process from the very beginning, and in them we trust.

Now that the unity vote is behind us, our United Conservative Party caucus is turning its attention to the next steps in the unity process.

As you may well know, July 24 triggers the unofficial start of a leadership race for the United Conservative Party.

Both Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and PC Leader Jason Kenney have signaled their intent to run in this race.

We wish these two, strong conservative leaders the very best in their upcoming campaigns.

Both have selected six people to sit on an Interim Joint Board for the new party, which will envelope the Wildrose, PCs and the United Conservative Party.

The United Conservative Party entity will be registered with Elections Alberta very soon. Our caucus will also inform the Speaker of the Legislature of our new, united caucus.

It’s important to remember the work of the Legislature is of the utmost importance, even as the leadership campaigns become a larger focus for Albertans.

On July 24, our caucus met for the very first time and elected an interim leader to steer us through the following months. Our interim leader Nathan Cooper, the MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, will be at the helm of the United Conservative Party caucus for about three months, holding the NDP government to account and managing operations at the Legislature.

An interim leader is a very important role in our democracy, and we wish Mr. Cooper the very best in his duties. The interim leader will also sit on the joint board mentioned above, along with one MLA from each of the Wildrose and PC legacy parties.

While the policies of the new United Conservative Party are being debated, it’s important to remember that our MLAs remain dedicated first and foremost to their constituents.

As the NDP government continues to fail working Alberta families by imposing risky ideas that cause job losses, our caucus is united in its goals of advocating strong, common sense alternatives that create jobs for Albertans while opposing risky NDP policies that scare investment away.

Every member of our caucus will make his or her decisions based on what’s best for the working families of this province, not insiders or special interest groups.

We promise to make the next chapter of Alberta’s history the greatest chapter yet.

Mark Smith is the Wildrose MLA for the Drayton Valley-Devon constituency, including much of the County of Wetaskiwin. He can be reached by phone 780-542-3355 toll free 1-800-542-7307, Drayton Valley – Devon constituency office Box 7272 Drayton Valley, AB, T7A 1S5, email draytonvalley.devon@assembly.ab.ca.