PHOTOS: Hate to burst your balloons, Tories, but Brian Jean says any new new united right-wing party will be the Wildrose Party, and nothing else. ( photo.) Below: Wildrose Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt, front-running Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Jason Kenney and a group of smokers … actual young Alberta tobacco users may not appear exactly as illustrated.

In case you’re still wondering how this unite-the-right thing is supposed to work, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean has clarified matters for you.

The party that emerges when the dust has settled will be the Wildrose Party, he told the world earlier this week. The Progressive Conservatives will be no more – although, certainly, the “new” Wildrose party (which will not be new at all, of course) will soon try to rebrand itself “conservative.”

Mr. Jean’s refreshing honesty is important, because up to now all would-be unite-the-righters  – including Jason Kenney, who is all but certain to become the PC leader on March 18 in Calgary – have been pretending that what emerges after the next step in his double reverse hostile takeover would be a merger of Alberta’s two principal conservative parties.

For his part, Mr. Kenney has claimed what results will be an entirely new party, although he has not explained how that could happen over the objections of the Wildrose leadership, or what would happen to the estimated $1.5 million in PC constituency bank accounts and candidate trusts that has reported would have to be forfeited if the party was dissolved. The Wildrose Party would not lose as much, because it quickly spends most of the funds it raises.

So, despite the efforts of other Wildrosers to say it ain’t so – Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt, for example, Tweeted this week that “unification should respect both Wildrose & PC members as equals” and called for negotiations closed to the media – for the reasons Mr. Jean pointed out, it cannot easily be so.

Mr. Jean made his clarifying statement while attending a Wildrose Party town hall meeting in Camrose on Monday. He told participants that if unification happens, it will be under the Wildrose structure, and furthermore that he will be a candidate to run the united party.

According to a media report, Mr. Jean told participants in the forum that joining up with the Tories “is a small price to pay if we can have Wildrose as the legal framework for the conservative movement going forward.”

And while the Wildrose Party has divisions of its own, as evidenced by constant rumours of factional warfare within the Opposition legislative caucus, it is hard to see how this could be any different without the consent of the Wildrose leader.

This presumably means the PCs under Mr. Kenney or anyone else are stuck with this reality if they decide to proceed with this union of unlike minds. At least, not without a Wildrose coup to depose Mr. Jean, and that would likely take too much time.

So if Alberta’s conservatives move to union – red Tories, progressive conservatives and the like take note – it will be as members of a new, possibly even more radical, version of the Wildrose Party that emerges as Alberta’s new “conservative” political entity.

Anti-smoking group says poll shows Albertans want $1.50 more tax on each pack of smokes

Two thirds of Albertans would like to see additional tax of $1.50 on every 20-smoke pack of cigarettes sold in the province, the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Alberta says.

The online survey in January by Leger Research, done for the coalition of well-known health organizations, also indicated three quarters of the 1,500 respondents want to see at least a third of the billion dollars in tobacco taxes collected by Alberta earmarked to help smokers quit and keep young people from starting.

The group argued in a press release yesterday that the additional taxes are needed because cigarettes now more affordable in Alberta than any other province because of the combination of too-low taxes and historically high incomes. It only takes an average 22 minutes of labour for Albertans to buy a pack of 20 cigarettes in Alberta compared with 25 minutes in B.C. and 26 minutes in Saskatchewan, the coalition’s news release stated.

The coalition was quite sharp in its criticism of Alberta’s NDP Government for not being more aggressive in its approach to tobacco suppression, in particular its failure to direct funds raised in taxes to smoking reduction and prevention programs.

Tim Wilson, press secretary to Health Minister Sarah Hoffman, said in a statement that “the province allocates close to $20 billion to health care in Alberta, and this includes Alberta Health Services smoking cessation and prevention programs. …While we are not looking at more revenue levers at this time, the government will continue to work with all of our partners to support the downward trend in smoking rates for Albertans.”

Opposition Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt expressed skepticism about the approach advocated by the coalition. “I’m generally fine with devoting revenue to sin taxes to combating the sin, rather than cash for general revenues,” he told me in a Twitter message. “I just don’t think constantly raising sin taxes is the answer. Very regressive taxes.”

A spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the self-styled anti-tax organization that has on occasion appeared to co-operate on tax issues with the tobacco industry, said the group was not planning to publish a statement about on the coalition’s idea.

This first section of this post also appears on

Join the Conversation


  1. There are many federal Conservatives in Alberta who gave up on provincial politics because neither the PC nor Wildrose appealed to them; neither party has recently succeeded in being a competent political movement based on conservative values. It is those provincially “homeless” federal conservatives who will tip the balance in favour of Jason Kenney’s unified conservative movement – if Brian Jean doesn’t get with the program, you’ll be surprised how quickly he can be replaced.

    PS Although I don’t smoke, I enjoy an occasional cigar. 😉

  2. i’m wondering what kind of new measures could be taken, to prevent smokers from smoke? for years i heard about hundreds of government initiatives and programs but never saw anything other than the tax rise, printing ugly pictures and forcing retailers to hide tobacco products behind the screens and curtains.
    another thing i’m curious to see is the comparison of cost burden on healthcare and social support programs for smokers and two another category – obesity due to “junk food” and longevity due to costly medical support for patients.

  3. In many ways, the Wildrose Party is in a position of strength when it comes to the issue of unifying the Conservative parties. First, they are currently the official opposition second, they have a strong base of support in rural Alberta and third they continue to do better than the PC’s in most polls and in fundraising. So it makes perfect sense for them not to treat unification as a merger of equals, but really as a takeover. Their position potentially will become even stronger after the PC leadership race which will see that party further divided and probably even more diminished from a number of moderates leaving. Strategically, time may be somewhat on the Wildrose’s side so they can wait to come and pick up the pieces on terms more favorable to them.

    Of course, Mr. Kenney would have probably preferred to have run for the leadership of the Wildrose, rather than the PC’s, but unfortunately for him that option was not available. If there were any attempts to overthrow Mr. Jean by Kenney supporters, they have have failed so far.

    In addition to voting in Mr. Kenney as leader, after that he will also have to get the PC’s to press the self destruct button. The remaining PC’s may not be willing to do that until they come to some agreement to unite with Wildrose. The Wildrose party may be able to take advantage of that desperation and extract some fairly onerous terms from the PC’s, which may result in a takeover rather than a merger. If the terms are too onerous that even the diminished PC’s reject them, Kenney might be stuck leading a third party that is limping along and which he is not fully in step with. We don’t have to look back too far in history to see how well that worked for others – he can just ask Raj Sherman, the former PC who led the Alberta Liberals to the political wilderness.

    There are many scenarios that could still unfold. I believe the right will be somewhat more united in the next election, but this does not necessarily mean the PC’s will be a part of it, even if Kenney becomes leader.

    1. Sounds like mostly good news. If the conservatives in Alberta move further to the right…and become vocal in that directional shift, perhaps life long conservatives will begin to wake up to the differences between the party now and the one their parent’s supported.

      Party loyalty often blinds the best of us, to changes as drastic as the ones that have given the wealthiest nation on earth a President who doesn’t even seem to be able to keep his billionaire ideology coherent. The Donald is a good reality check for conservatives everywhere………if they are paying attention.mmM

  4. The exteme right wing ship has already sailed.

    Albertans are just like most people around the world desirous of their government listening to their concerns. We all like government provided services. Even the wealthiest people and oil people like government services. The only differences is that that large corporations like the services to be provided to them and not to working class people.

    Albertans voted PC for 40 plus years because things were pretty good in Alberta for most people and if the price of oil goes up sometime in the future they will be quite content again with whatever political party is in power at the time.

    To equate the good times with the PCs is to forget that the good times had ended during their last year in office and the layoffs had already started. Prentice’s government answer was to blame Albertans for the deficit budget situation that his government faced hence the bloom had gone from the (wild) rose and the game was over for the PCs.

    Nor do the Wild Rose have any solution to Alberta’s woes. They don’t seem to understand that the Notley government was elected by Albertans and didn’t just install itself in power against the people’s will

  5. It’s so humorous to read the daily conservative posts from online Postmedia publications. The fervent attacks on the government lack reason, other than posters are ideologically opposed to the NDP. Most are unwilling to acknowledge that the voter pools for the Wildrose Party and PC Party are not the same. They also seem to ignore that Brian Jean and Jason Kenney are former federal Conservative MPs, who like Jim Prentice, are not viewed in high regard by the majority of severely normal Albertans.

    Recent statements by Brian Jean, that it’s Wildrose amalgamation or bust, make it extremely problematic for a cohesive end to this unite the right exercise. Best guess is an old-fashioned western shootout at the Wildrose corral, grassroots members be damned — and that’s the really sad part of this apparent shotgun marriage.

  6. This fight between Brian Jean and Jason Kenney boils down to an analogy of to little boys going around the corner, pulling their pants down and to see who has the biggest pee pee. Meanwhile, Premier Notley carries on with dignity and grace as an adult should. This talk of unite the right in Alberta has gotten so stupid that the vast majority of Albertan’s no matter what their political leanings are have look at as silly and ego driven. However, the politically and finacially “rich white boys” are wringing their hands with glee at a united, alt-right, democracy be dammed chance to take this province back from what they perceive as group of social Democrats who want to make Alberta a more fair, equitable place to live.

  7. I quit smoking when they hit 10 dollars a pack. Now the last pack I bought for the wife I payed 16.50. I was talking to my neighbor yesterday and he was telling me he bought cigarettes from an aboriginal for 6 dollars a pack. Looks to me like a good revenue generator for First Nations. When taxes are viewed as being too high citizens always find ways around it. Personally I think taxes on smokes are high enough and that the government could easily re-direct the money to help people quit if they wanted.

    1. You make me feel old. My buddy Gerry wisely quit smoking when they hit $2 a pack … he reckoned a pre-Twoonie red bill was too much for a pack of smokes. I waited till they were around $7, I think. Thirty some years, anyway. I don’t regret quitting, but I still feel like a smoke first thing in the morning. Go figure. DJC

      1. wow
        If 22 minutes gets you $16.50,
        then an hour gets you $45.00
        which is the standard after school job pay in alberta these days by their math?
        Canada has a low rate of tobacco consumption and a high rate of lung cancer …go figure.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.