The Annals of Conservative Unity: Typhoons, coups, force majeure and the idea of Alberta

Share This Post

PHOTOS: Force Majeure! The Wildrose Party executive committee, like the guys in this Jeep, has a plan. Actual Wildrosers confronting Acts of God may not appear exactly as illustrated. (Photo: Screenshot of Jeep advertisement.) Below: Would-be United Conservative Party leaders Brian Jean and Jason Kenney.

Is the Wildrose Party’s Executive Committee planning a coup, or planning for one?

Or are they just being extra careful in the event an off-course typhoon makes landfall in Alberta?

With the hours ticking down to the moment members of Alberta’s two conservative political parties vote on whether or not to unite as one, the leaders of both are beating the drums to ensure their members vote yes to a Wildrose-Progressive Conservative merger.

PC membership sales closed at midnight last night for those who wanted to be able to vote on the deal. Members of both parties who joined on time will then be entitled to vote on July 22, which, if the universe unfolds as the leaders of both parties desire, will result in the creation of the United Conservative Party, already universally known as the You-See-Pee.

Accordingly, in case they wondered, the Wildrose Party is sending its members a document explaining the rules of the unity vote – entitled “Special Rules of Order for the Special General Meeting of the Wildrose Party.”

This is pretty much what you’d expect, but for the final section, Article 8, wherein things get mildly weird.

Article 8.1 states, “In the event of a ‘force majeure’ as apprehended and declared by a majority vote of the Executive Committee, these Rules may be supplemented or amended, which includes, without limitation, the alteration, extension, abridgement or suspension of any time periods provided for in these Rules, by the Executive Committee.”

“The exercise of any discretion or the determination of any matter by the Chair,” Article 8.2 goes on, “is final, binding and not subject to review. …” What’s more, says Article 8.3, motions intended to cause delay “will be ruled out of order and not allowed to proceed, except at the discretion of the Chair.” And so on.

Is it just me, or does this not exactly sound like the workings of the “grassroots” party the Wildrose always said it was?

Whatever, in law, a force majeure is what we civilians would call an act of God, that is to say, an irresistible force, something you just can’t do anything about. You know, like a typhoon. Or a volcano. Or, in the case of the Wildrose Party, anything so apprehended and declared by a majority vote of the party’s executive committee.

So, could this be stretched to mean, say, a decision by the party’s rank and file not to do as they’ve been instructed and vote for unity?

I’m not saying that’s what the party’s rules makers have in mind. I am saying that’s what might pop into my head if I were the kind of Wildrose member who snugged down his tinfoil hat every night and listened for the slap of the blades of the United Nations’ black helicopters, come to enforce Agenda 21 by making Albertans eat locally grown food!

And I am saying that this is quite unusual. There’s no requirement for anything like this in Robert’s Rules of Order, used by the Wildrosers to run their unspecial meetings. It’s the sort of thing that sometimes crops up in commercial contracts to limit the liability of suppliers who can’t deliver goods someone has purchased, say, because of a hurricane. Oh, and it is included in the bylaws of the Yellowknife Slo-Pitch Association and, um, that appears to be about it for non-commercial enterprises.

So, as a fine lawyer of my acquaintance asks, “What are they expecting? A waterspout?”

Or maybe it’s just we’re not in Kansas any more, here in Alberta. Whatever it is, the coruscating legalists employed by both parties (who may or may not be the same people) are working hard to ensure nothing goes wrong when the members of both parties (who by now also may or may not be the same people) vote on unity a week Saturday.

And if the Wildrose leaders did use Article 8 to ensure the right outcome happens no matter what, well, at least that would be less embarrassing than having to blame imaginary New Democrats and trade union members for such an unexpected result!

It’s interesting that the Alberta conservatives who used to do this kind of membership-sales thing on the grounds they were the only political show in town and it was a good way to get donations are reduced to paranoid grumblings about sneaky social democrats infiltrating their ranks.

Regardless, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean has lately taken to showing up at venues where he wouldn’t have been found in the past, like union barbecues and LGBTQ Stampede events in Calgary. He is, presumably, preparing for the likely victory of the unity forces – which will be followed by a contest to determine who will lead the UCP. Since Progressive Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney has staked out the loony right territory once associated with the Wildrose Party, the head Wildroser seems to be focusing on the moderate vote in the upcoming contest.

For his part, Mr. Kenney is exhorting his supporters in jocular emails to vote for unity. “Alberta is more than just a place on a map,” he said in one, or someone said for him. “It’s an idea. An idea of a place where if you work hard you can achieve your dreams.”

So vote for the candidate who is sure to cut taxes for the richest taxpayers and make everyone else pay the freight. Go figure!

Categories Alberta Politics