The proposed merger of the Wildrose and PC Parties came a bit closer to reality June 22 as Drayton-Devon MLA Mark Smith held an open house to present the document intended to guide the proposed union.
The open house was held in the Devon Legion Hall and was open to not only party members, but any member of the public interested in the proposed merger of the parties.
Wildroser Smith said the memorandum of understanding is a set of principles upon which both parties could agree, set aside their differences and unite for the betterment of Alberta. He said much of the initial impetus for “Unite the Right” was to end vote splitting which had a strong effect on the last provincial election.
“The NDP were a government that was elected by accident,” said Smith to the audience, adding that Albertans are now coping with “a severe case of buyer’s remorse.”
Smith said the MOU is a guiding document that members of both parties will approve by vote if they agree with the principles. “So this is a very important time in our party’s history,” said Smith. The vote will be held July 22 at the Radisson in Red Deer; both phone-in and Internet voting options are in development.
If the MOU is approved by members, the parties will merge under the name “United Conservative Party.” Smith also noted critics who claim the merger isn’t legal are wrong; such a merger occurred in Saskatchewan. Below is the full text of the document presented at the meeting.
Text of MOU from June 22 meeting
Agreement in principle on the establishment of the United Conservative Party Brian Jean, Leader of the Wildrose Party Jason Kenney, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta May 18, 2017 2 We agree to place the following agreement in principle (“Agreement”) before our respective caucuses, party executives and party memberships for consideration.
1. NAME OF THE PARTY The Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta (“PCAA”) and the Wildrose Party (“WRP”) (individually, “Legacy Party” and collectively, the “Legacy Parties”) agree to unify under a single political banner according to this Agreement. The name of the new party will be the United Conservative Party (the “UCP”).
2. CREATION OF A NEW PARTY The Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties will treat each other as equal partners, respecting the legacies and contributions of both parties to Alberta’s public life, while moving forward united to ensure a better future for all Albertans. The UCP will be a broad coalition of Albertans united in common cause, reflecting the diversity of today’s Alberta. The UCP will be open, democratic, and accountable to its members. The members of the UCP will develop and amend its bylaws and constitutional documents, adopt its public policies, elect its Leader, and choose its candidates for the Legislature.
3. FOUNDING PRINCIPLES The United Conservative Party will be guided by the following principles: • The rule of law, equality of all before the law, and protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of all; • Economic freedom in a market economy which encourages the creation of wealth through free enterprise, and protection of the right to own, enjoy and exchange property; • A robust civil society made up of free individuals, strong families, and voluntary associations; • Grassroots democracy, including measures to empower Albertans to hold governments accountable during and between elections; • Compassion for the less fortunate expressed through progressive social policies that help people to become self-reliant, and ensure equality of opportunity; • Universal access to high quality, publicly-funded health care; 3 • High quality publicly-funded education that maintains Alberta’s successful model of school choice; • Protecting public safety as a primary responsibility of government; • Environmental responsibility, including the protection and conservation of our natural environment for the benefit of future generations; • Limited government, including low levels of taxation to help generate economic growth while allowing Albertans to enjoy the fruits of their own labour; • Fiscal responsibility, including balanced budgets, debt reduction, and respect for taxpayers’ money; • A regulatory regime that is fair, competitive, and that does not inhibit economic opportunity; • Loyalty to a united Canada, and a commitment for Alberta to be a Leader in the Canadian federation that constructively defends the best interests of the province and its constitutional sovereignty; and • Parliamentary institutions and the democratic process enshrined in our Constitutional Monarchy, together with greater engagement by citizens in democratic decision making, and greater accountability of government to citizens.
4. NEW SOCIETY A new society with the name the United Conservative Association (the “Association”) will be incorporated immediately under the Societies Act (Alberta) for the purposes of activities related to the establishment of the UCP. As soon as possible after ratification of this Agreement by the members of both of the Legacy Parties, the Association will apply to the Chief Electoral Officer to register an Alberta provincial political party under the name UCP. The result will be that the UCP and the Legacy Parties will have one executive and one Leader having control of all three of the registered parties. The Association will own, control and protect, and have the exclusive use of, all of the trademarks, wordmarks, copyrights, names, and registrations of the Legacy Parties and of the UCP.
5. INTERIM JOINT BOARD Each Leader of the Legacy Parties will select six individuals (for a total of 12) who, upon ratification of this Agreement by the members of both of the Legacy Parties, will serve as an interim joint board (“Interim Joint Board”) for the Association, the UCP, and the Legacy Parties. A Chair will be mutually agreed upon by the members of the Interim Joint Board. 4 The Interim Leader will be a non-voting member of the Interim Joint Board and will select one caucus member from each Legacy Party to serve as non-voting representatives to the Interim Joint Board. On the first business day after ratification of this Agreement by the members of both of the Legacy Parties, the Interim Joint Board will amalgamate the Legacy Parties’ societies with the Association pursuant to s. 32 of the Societies Act (Alberta). The Interim Joint Board will be responsible for the following: a) carrying out such actions as are necessary to give effect to this Agreement; b) making all filings for the Legacy Parties and the UCP as required by the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act and other applicable legislation; and working with the constituency associations of the Legacy Parties and of the UCP to ensure that all of their financial transactions and filings are completed in accordance with applicable legislation; c) fundraising and setting up the financial, administrative and information technology systems for the UCP; d) registering and setting rules for the operation of the constituency associations of the UCP; e) planning the first convention and general meeting of the UCP; f) providing resources to the committees created by this Agreement; and g) setting up such committees as are required to complete its responsibilities under this Agreement; however, the Interim Joint Board shall not interfere in the independence of the committees created by Sections 6, 7, and 8 of this Agreement. In the event that a member of the Interim Joint Board becomes unable or unwilling to continue, then the Interim Joint Board shall replace that individual. A replacement candidate must achieve the support of a majority of the nominees of the Legacy Party from which the vacancy originated, or their successors. Members of the Interim Joint Board must be neutral during the Leadership election process.
6. POLICY COMMITTEE Each Leader of the Legacy Parties will select five individuals (for a total of ten) to serve on a committee to consult with members and, using the documents of the Legacy Parties, develop founding policies to be considered by members at the first convention and general meeting of the UCP. The committee will also review the bylaws of the Association and will provide for members to have the opportunity to amend the bylaws at the first convention and general meeting. The committee will also develop proposed constitutional documents for the membership to review, amend and ratify at the first convention and general meeting. 5 In the event that a member of the Policy Committee becomes unable or unwilling to continue, then the Interim Joint Board shall replace that individual. A replacement candidate must achieve the support of a majority of the nominees of the Legacy Party from which the vacancy originated, or their successors. Members of the Policy Committee must be neutral during the Leadership election process.
7. NOMINATIONS Each Leader of the Legacy Parties will select two individuals (for a total of four) to serve on a Nominations Committee which will, by September 1st, 2017, establish the rules, timing, and procedures for the nomination process of the UCP, including the rules that will govern the nomination of candidates in each electoral division. Should the Nominations Committee deadlock on a decision the tie shall be broken by the Interim Leader. The rules shall provide for a neutral Local Nominating Committee in each electoral division that shall be responsible for the administration of an open and democratic candidate selection process in that electoral division and for evaluating and providing a recommendation to the Nominations Committee as to the suitability of any person applying to be a nomination contestant. The Nominations Committee shall have the exclusive authority to vet and disallow the candidacy of any person before or after nomination by the Constituency Association, subject only to the appeal of such a decision to the Interim Joint Board or its successor. The Nominations Committee shall designate the person authorized to sign endorsement documents. The members of the Nominations Committee shall be selected for a one-year term. In the event that a member of the Nominations Committee becomes unable or unwilling to continue, the members of the Legacy Party caucus from which the vacancy originated shall elect a replacement by majority secret ballot.
8. LEADERSHIP ELECTION COMMITTEE Each Leader of the Legacy Parties will select six individuals (for a total of 12) to serve on a Leadership Election Committee (“LEC”) with a Chair or Co-chairs mutually agreed upon by the members of the LEC. Subject to this agreement, the LEC will determine the process for Leadership election and will retain such auditors as are necessary to ensure a fair and equitable conduct of the voting process, including verification of membership. Members of the LEC must be neutral during the Leadership election process. A representative from each Leadership campaign will be allowed to participate in a nonvoting capacity in every meeting of the LEC except for in-camera portions of meetings and meetings called for disciplinary purposes. In the event that a member of the LEC becomes unable or unwilling to continue, then the Interim Joint Board shall replace that individual. A replacement candidate must achieve 6 the support of a majority of the nominees of the Legacy Party from which the vacancy originated, or their successors.
9. LEADERSHIP ELECTION The Leader will be elected on October 28, 2017. The first Leader shall be elected by a majority of the members. The LEC shall determine the minimum period of membership for voting in the Leadership election so as to ensure the equality of opportunity of all members to vote. That minimum period of membership shall be at least 21 days, but may be higher to ensure fairness in the distribution of ballots. The period of eligibility to vote will be determined in a manner that ensures the equality of franchise of all members regardless of geography is respected and ensured. For greater certainty, this means the Leadership rules and process must provide an adequate period of time for ballots to be received and cast by the elector on, or before, the Leadership election date. To ensure that membership eligibility requirements are met, reproduction of Canadian or Alberta government issued photo identification must be provided by the elector with their completed ballot, in order for the ballot to be considered valid. The system used to elect the first Leader need not be used for subsequent Leadership elections. The members of the UCP may determine an alternative method of electing future Leaders. At a minimum, a Leadership review vote will be conducted at a convention and general meeting after a general election where the UCP does not form the government, and otherwise as may be specified in the constitutional documents.
10. MEMBERSHIP Membership in the UCP will consist of all who are ordinarily residents of Alberta who: a) are at least 14 years of age; b) indicate their intention to join the UCP by personally authorizing an application for membership in the UCP; c) support the principles of the UCP; and d) have paid the prescribed membership fee, personally or through an immediate family member (spouse, parent or child). As proof of membership, an Albertan will either hold a valid official current membership card of the UCP issued in his or her name or be on the UCP’s official membership list. The UCP will endeavour to begin membership sales no later than ten (10) days after ratification of this Agreement by the members of both of the Legacy Parties or the registration of the UCP, whichever comes last. 7 Valid memberships in both Legacy Parties, along with the scheduled expiration dates of those memberships, will be respected and acknowledged as memberships of the UCP. To be recognized as valid, a membership or the renewal of the membership in either Legacy Party must have been paid for personally or through an immediate family member (spouse, parent or child). Individuals who are eligible for UCP membership under this Agreement, and who become members of either of the Legacy Parties after the signing of this Agreement but before membership sales in the UCP commence, will automatically become members of the UCP.
11. FINANCIAL MATTERS The assets and liabilities of each Legacy Party will be kept separate. The assets of the WRP will be used, first, to pay or extinguish the liabilities of the WRP and, secondly, for such other purposes as are permitted by law. The assets of the PCAA will be used, first, to pay or extinguish the liabilities of the PCAA and, secondly, for such other purposes as are permitted by law. For greater certainty, assets of one Legacy Party will not be used to repay or extinguish the liabilities of the other Legacy Party. The Legacy Parties agree to full and complete disclosure and to share all financial and contractual information, all debts and obligations, and information identifying potential or outstanding legal risk, with each other and with the UCP. The UCP and the Legacy Parties will respect the spirit of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act (Alberta) by adhering to the spending limits of a single political party registration.
12. FIRST CONVENTION AND GENERAL MEETING A first convention and general meeting will be responsible for: a) review and amendment of the bylaws and constitutional documents, including the statement of principles and the party’s name; b) review and amendment of the policy declaration proposed by the Policy Committee; and c) election of a board of directors. The date and location of the first convention and general meeting will be determined by the Interim Joint Board. All members of the UCP will be able to attend, participate in and vote at any convention and general meeting of the UCP upon payment of the prescribed registration fee.
13. STANDSTILL ON NOMINATIONS Pending ratification of this Agreement, candidate nomination contests of both of the Legacy Parties scheduled for completion after May 17, 2017, will be cancelled and further nominations will be frozen.
14. FOUNDING OF CONSTITUENCY ASSOCIATIONS Immediately after ratification of this Agreement and in coordination with the Interim Joint Board, the constituency associations of the Legacy Parties in each electoral division will jointly found and form the constituency association of the UCP for their electoral division. Each Legacy Party constituency association board of directors will select not more than 15 members of the UCP to serve as the interim board of directors in that constituency association. An incumbent UCP MLA shall be an automatic voting member of the interim board of directors of their constituency association. The board of each constituency association of the UCP will convene an annual general meeting, at which the members shall elect a board of directors, no later than June 30, 2018. The assets, liabilities, and bank accounts of the constituency associations of each Legacy Party will be kept separate from those of (i) the other Legacy Party, and (ii) the UCP. The assets of a Legacy Party’s constituency association will be used for such purposes as are permitted by law.
15. CAUCUS AND LEADER OF THE PARTIES As soon as possible after all documents required to effect the amalgamation of the Legacy Parties and the Association are completed and filed, the Whips of the Legacy Party caucuses will convene a meeting of the joint caucus to elect amongst themselves by majority secret ballot the Interim Leader of the UCP. The Interim Leader of the UCP will also serve as the Leader of both Legacy Parties. Incumbent UCP MLAs shall be voting members of both Legacy Party constituency association boards of directors in their constituency. The Interim Leader of the UCP will not be permitted to run for the permanent Leadership of the UCP and must be neutral in the Leadership election process.
16. COMPLETION OF RATIFICATION The Leaders of the Legacy Parties agree to seek the ratification of this Agreement by their respective parties as expeditiously as possible, and they will in good faith promote to their respective members the merits of ratifying this Agreement. The Leaders of the Legacy Parties agree to campaign for ratification and that a Leadership election process will not begin until ratification is completed. The Legacy Parties will at ratification, through Special Resolutions, amend their respective constitutions to give effect to this Agreement. 9 As a sign of good faith and as a backup precaution in the event of either i) an early provincial general election call or ii) either of the Legacy Parties being unable for reasons beyond their control to ratify and implement this Agreement in a timely manner, but not including an explicit rejection of this Agreement by vote of either Legacy Party’s membership, the Legacy Party Leaders agree to confer with their respective caucuses and executives and with each other to put in place actions which will seek to ensure that the candidates of the Legacy Parties comprise a majority of the Members of the Legislative Assembly elected in the next general election, following which the unity process would continue. Dated at Edmonton, Alberta this 18th day of May, 2017.