United Conservative Party
Active provincial party
AbbreviationUCP
LeaderDanielle Smith
PresidentRob Smith[1]
Executive DirectorDustin van Vugt
FoundedJuly 31, 2017
Merger of
Headquarters203-2915 21 Street NE
Calgary, Alberta
T2E 7T1
Membership (2022)Increase 123,915[2]
Ideology
Political positionCentre-right to right-wing
Seats in Legislature
48 / 87
Website
unitedconservative.ca

The United Conservative Party of Alberta (UCP) is a conservative political party in the province of Alberta, Canada. It was established in July 2017 as a merger between the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta and the Wildrose Party. When established, the UCP immediately formed the Official Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. The UCP won a majority mandate in the 2019 Alberta general election to form the government of Alberta.[5] The party won a renewed majority mandate in the 2023 Alberta general election under the leadership of Danielle Smith.

Overview

In July 2017, the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta and the Wildrose Party merged to form the United Conservative Party under the leadership of Jason Kenney, a former cabinet member in the Stephen Harper government. Kenney had won the 2017 Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta leadership election on a platform of uniting the two parties.[6]

Background

When the Alberta New Democratic Party's (NDP) won the 2015 Alberta general election, it ended an uninterrupted period in which the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta had won provincial elections since 1971, under Premiers Peter Lougheed, Don Getty, Ralph Klein, Ed Stelmach, Alison Redford, Dave Hancock and Jim Prentice. No other government had served for that long at the provincial or federal level in Canadian history.[7][8][9]

The Wildrose Party had formed in 2008 as a provincial political party in Alberta, Canada with the merger of the Alberta Alliance Party and the unregistered Wildrose Party of Alberta.[10][11] Its members largely consisted of dissatisfied former Progressive Conservative supporters. Three of the first five Wildrose MLAs were defectors originally elected as Progressive Conservatives.[12][13]: 244 

Danielle Smith, who served as leader of the Wildrose Party from October 2009 until December 2014, made an unsuccessful attempt to merge the Wildrose and the PC party by resigning from the Wildrose and crossing the floor to join the governing Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta caucus under then Premier Jim Prentice, along with eight other Wildrose MLAs.[14] The remaining Wildrose Party refused to consider the request by Smith to dissolve their party. Then Wildrose President David Yager said at the time "This is not a merger in any way. It is capitulation."[15] When the NDP won in 2015 an Edmonton Sun article blamed the mass Wildrose defections for the loss.[8] In the wake of the historical loss, uniting the Wildrose and PC parties became a major issue.

In July 2016, federal MP and former minister Jason Kenney announced that he would seek the PC leadership on a platform of seeking a merger with the Wildrose. Kenney was elected PC leader on March 18, 2017. Negotiations between Wildrose leader Brian Jean and Kenney were successful; the merger agreement was released on May 18, 2017. The results of the July 22, 2017 internal votes on the merger agreement held by both parties[16][17] supported the merger with 95% of Wildrose and PC members voting in favour.[18][19][20]

A joint meeting of the PC and Wildrose caucuses was held on July 24, 2017, to elect Nathan Cooper, Wildrose MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, as interim leader—and hence Leader of the Opposition--[21] over Prasad Panda, Wildrose MLA for Calgary-Foothills, and Richard Gotfried, who at the time was PC MLA for Calgary-Fish Creek.[22] As well, members of both caucuses approached the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and asked to be recognized as the United Conservative caucus.[19]

Kenney and Jean selected six individuals each to sit on the interim executive board of the new party. Ed Ammar was elected as first chair of the party on July 24, 2017. Cooper also appointed two MLAs to the board as non-voting members. The new party was registered with Elections Alberta as of July 31, 2017.[22]

Although it was generally understood that the PC and Wildrose merged to form the UCP, Alberta electoral law at the time did not permit parties to formally merge or transfer assets between each other. Thus, the PC and Wildrose legally continued to exist, while the UCP was legally reckoned as a newly created party. As a result, on July 24, 2017–the day the new UCP formally came into existence–Cooper and the UCP's interim leadership team formally assumed the leaderships of both the PC and Wildrose parties as well. Also on that date, all members in good standing of the PCs and Wildrose became members of the UCP, with all but a few members withdrawing their memberships in the merging parties. The PCs and Wildrose withdrew from any meaningful public presence, thus de facto dissolving them although they continued to exist on paper.

To maintain their registration and assets, both the PCs and Wildrose ran one paper candidate each in Edmonton-Strathcona (an NDP safe seat held at that time by NDP leader Rachel Notley). On February 7, 2020, after the UCP government passed legislation allowing parties to legally merge, Elections Alberta formally approved the merger of the PCs and Wildrose into the UCP, allowing the UCP to merge the legacy parties' assets and formally wind up their affairs.

2017 leadership election

The leadership election held on October 28, 2017 resulted in former PC leader Jason Kenney defeating former Wildrose leader Brian Jean and Doug Schweitzer, a former aide to Jim Prentice, to become UCP leader. Kenney won more than 60% of the vote on the first ballot.[23] Kenney successfully contested a by-election in Calgary-Lougheed on December 14, 2017, after incumbent MLA Dave Rodney resigned in order to give Kenney an opportunity to enter the Alberta legislature.[24]

2019 provincial election

The UCP won the 2019 provincial election with a large majority, mainly on the strength of a near-sweep of Calgary (where it won all but three seats) and rural Alberta (where it won all but one seat).

Under the Premiership of Jason Kenney, their first cabinet of the 30th Alberta Legislature was sworn in by lieutenant governor of Alberta, Lois Mitchell, on April 30, 2019.[25]

2022 leadership election

Jason Kenney resigned as UCP leader on May 18, 2022 after getting 51.4% support in a leadership review vote.[26] The 2022 United Conservative Party leadership election was held and was won by Danielle Smith.

2023 provincial election

The UCP under Premier Danielle Smith was re-elected to government in the 2023 Alberta general election with a reduced majority.[27][28] They lost their one seat in Edmonton to the NDP.[29][30][31] The election campaign had been close and one of the fiercest in Alberta's history.[32]

Fundraising

The UCP broke provincial records by pulling in $10.4 million in 2023, ending the election year with over $1 million in the bank, while the opposition NDP was $624,000 in debt.[33] In the first quarter of 2024, the UCP raised $2,263,767 compared to the NDP who raised $1,011,739.[34]

Controversies

2017 leadership race RCMP investigation

On March 16, 2019, it came to light that during the UCP leadership election campaign Jason Kenney's leadership campaign collaborated with fellow candidate Jeff Callaway's campaign to undermine the leadership campaign of former Wildrose party leader Brian Jean.[35] A document prepared by Callaway's communication's manager describes how Kenney's campaign provided communications support as well as planned regular strategic direction throughout Callaway's campaign.[35] The Alberta Elections Commissioner levied more than $200,000 in fines relating to the kamikaze campaign[36] prior to the Elections Commissioner's termination by the UCP government and conclusion of open investigations.[37]

The RCMP concluded their investigation into the 2017 UCP leadership race on March 8, 2024 and announced they found no evidence of wrongdoing.[38]

Leaders

See also: 2017 United Conservative Party leadership election and 2022 United Conservative Party leadership election

List of Leaders
No. Leader Term
Interim Nathan Cooper July 24, 2017 – October 28, 2017
1 Jason Kenney October 28, 2017 – October 6, 2022
2 Danielle Smith October 6, 2022 – present
List of Deputy Leaders
No. Deputy Leader Term
1 Mike Ellis July 25, 2017 – October 30, 2017
2 Leela Aheer October 30, 2017 – 2021[39]

Electoral results

Election Leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Government
2019 Jason Kenney 1,040,004 54.88%
63 / 87
Steady 63 Steady 1st Supermajority
2023 Danielle Smith 928,896 52.63%
49 / 87
Decrease 14 Steady 1st Majority

Notes

References

  1. ^ "Board". United Conservative Party. Retrieved 5 November 2023.
  2. ^ Markusoff, Jason (25 August 2022). "Why choosing Alberta's next premier largely lies in the hands of folks in Rimbey, Strathmore and Three Hills". CBC. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  3. ^ Dryden, Joel (Jun 18, 2020). "2 'fair deal' panel members at loggerheads after report's release". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  4. ^ Franklin, Michael (June 10, 2020). "UCP MLA Angela Pitt mulls idea of autonomous Alberta with social media post". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Right-wingers win Canada's Alberta province". BBC News. 17 April 2019.
  6. ^ Bellefontaine, Michelle (March 18, 2017). "Wildrose 'not our enemies,' Kenney says in PC leadership pitch". CBC News. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  7. ^ Block, Niko; Marshall, Tabitha (2019). "United Conservative Party". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 18, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Gunter, Lorne. "NDP lineup full of radicals". Calgary Sun.
  9. ^ "List of MLAs". PC Alberta. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  10. ^ "Wildrose Party Constitution" (PDF). Wildrose Party. 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-01-15.
  11. ^ "Wildrose drops 'Alliance' from name". CBC News. 26 June 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  12. ^ Kleiss, Karen (April 9, 2012). "Alberta election pits PC's 'red' versus Wildrose's 'blue' conservatives, experts say". National Post. Retrieved 2015-05-23.
  13. ^ Bratt, Duane (2012). Canada, the Provinces, and the Global Nuclear Revival: Advocacy Coalitions in Action. McGill-Queen's Press(MQUP). ISBN 978-0-7735-4068-2.
  14. ^ "9 Wildrose MLAs, including Danielle Smith, cross to Alberta Tories". CBC News. December 17, 2014.
  15. ^ Henton, Darcy. "Mass defection expected as Wildrose MLAs to join PCs". Calgary Herald.
  16. ^ "Conservative unity vote: A timeline". Edmonton Journal. July 22, 2017. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  17. ^ "Alberta's Wildrose, PCs agree to create new United Conservative Party". CBC News. May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  18. ^ "Wildrose votes yes to unity with 95% of the vote". Calgary Herald. July 22, 2017. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  19. ^ a b Bellefontaine, Michelle (July 22, 2017). "Wildrose and PC members approve unite-the-right deal with 95% voting 'yes'". CBC News. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  20. ^ "Wildrose-PC members to vote on new united party July 22". Edmonton Journal. May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  21. ^ "Nathan Cooper chosen as interim leader of United Conservative Party". CBC News. July 24, 2017.
  22. ^ a b Graney, Emma (July 22, 2017). "United Conservative Party: The next steps". Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  23. ^ James Wood (2016-09-08). "Donna Kennedy-Glans joins PC leadership race". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  24. ^ "Calgary MLA steps down to allow Jason Kenney to run for legislature seat". CBC News. 2017-10-29. Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  25. ^ Leavitt, Kieran; Maimann, Kevin (April 30, 2019). "Jason Kenney sworn in as 18th premier of Alberta, names his UCP cabinet". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  26. ^ Dawson, Tyler (May 18, 2022). "Alberta Premier Jason Kenney resigns as UCP leader after getting 51.4% support in leadership review".
  27. ^ "Alberta election: Danielle Smith's UCP to form next government after tight race | Globalnews.ca". Global News. Retrieved 2023-05-30.
  28. ^ "What Danielle Smith's Alberta election win means for the rest of Canada | Globalnews.ca". Global News. Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  29. ^ "UCP wins Alberta election but no Edmonton seats. What now? - Edmonton | Globalnews.ca". Global News. Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  30. ^ Williams, Nia; Bracken, Amber; Shakil, Ismail (May 30, 2023). "Alberta premier Smith takes aim at Trudeau after winning provincial election". Reuters. Retrieved September 6, 2023.
  31. ^ Austen, Ian (May 30, 2023). "Alberta Election Sees Conservatives Keep Power After Hard-Right Turn". The New York Times. Retrieved September 6, 2023.
  32. ^ Taylor-Vaisey, Nick (May 28, 2023). "In Alberta, a bruising campaign invites political chaos". POLITICO. Retrieved September 6, 2023.
  33. ^ Markusoff, Jason (April 11, 2024). "Danielle Smith takes UCP fundraising to new heights, while Alberta NDP strikes red ink".
  34. ^ "Elections Alberta Quarterly Reports - Party - 2024". May 8, 2024.
  35. ^ a b "Kenney, Callaway campaigns collaborated to attack Brian Jean during UCP leadership race, leaked documents show". CBC. March 16, 2019.
  36. ^ "Election commissioner issues more fines in 'kamikaze' UCP leadership campaign". edmontonjournal.com. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  37. ^ "Braid: In brazen move, UCP fires the commissioner investigating its leadership scandal". calgaryherald.com. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  38. ^ "Alberta RCMP concludes investigations surrounding the 2017 UCP Leadership Vote | Royal Canadian Mounted Police". 8 March 2024.
  39. ^ Heintz, Lauryn (July 16, 2021). "Leela Aheer out as minister after Kenney shuffles cabinet". Airdrie Today. Retrieved 24 October 2022.
Preceded byAlberta New Democratic Party Governing party of Alberta 2019–present Succeeded by