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

Posted on July 13, 2017, 1:03 am
7 mins

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!

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

  1. David Harrigan

    July 13th, 2017

    Not wanting to get the tinfoil hat brigade more excited, but “force majeure” is not just what we civilians would call “an act of God.” An act of God normally is limited to natural events such as fire, flood, earthquake, etc. Force majeure is broader and includes such things as war, riots and other acts of man. Just saying. And getting worried.

    • Athabascan

      July 19th, 2017

      Force majeure can be limited by express language in a contract that would exclude such things as war, riots, “acts of God” etc. The catch is those exclusions have to be agreed upon by the signing parties, normally at the time of signing, or at least before the event.

      However, there have been cases where arguments arise as to whether an event qualifies as a force majeure.

      Therefore, it does not necessarily follow that a force majeure frustrates a contract in every case.

  2. Farmer B

    July 13th, 2017

    Dave, I think you need to look at the CBC website. There is an article you would like on how if the unity vote passes there will be a meeting on July 29 to form a new party with basically the same structure but a different name than the Wildrose. If this all occurs the United Conservative Party will siphon off the more moderate conservatives and the died in the wool Wildroser’s will go to the new version of Wildrose 2.0. In my opinion a win for all except of course the NDP 🙂

  3. July 13th, 2017

    Do the Kenney Konservatives Klowns have any sort of “Special Rules of Order” for their vote?

    • Athabascan

      July 15th, 2017

      Yes, I think they do judging from the federal conservative leadership campaign and vote.

      It goes something like this: Cheat your ass off by inventing (aka inflating) the number of eligible voters who support you. Then win with a majority with 50.90% of the vote, like Sheer did, and afterwards destroy the ballots so no one can double-check the count, or mount a challenge for the legality/fairness of the process.

      I Kenney follows this cheater’s strategy, then he is a shoe-in to lead the Wildrose/Tea Party/white supremacist/anti LGBTQ /Republican/Alberta Conservative Party.

      There see how easy that was?

  4. jerrymacgp

    July 13th, 2017

    One thing I find odd about this entire process, is the whole idea of “selling memberships”. One would think that for a decision of the magnitude of effectively dissolving one’s existing political party and creating a new one out of whole cloth, which is what this so-called “merger” actually amounts to, the right to have a voice in the decision should be limited to those existing members of the party that have already demonstrated their commitment to its policies and values, not “Johnny-come-lately” instant members. (Imagine, for instance, if one of our political parties brought in a raft of new citizenship applications weeks before a general election… would that be deemed kosher?). Then, there’s this idea of voting twice, by holding memberships in both “merger” partners; seems undemocratic to me.

    • Farron Kelly

      July 18th, 2017

      Conservatives being undemocratic? Never.

  5. J.E. Molnar

    July 13th, 2017

    In recent days, it’s becoming apparent by developments in the unite-the-right soap opera that all is not as it seems in Torytown 2.0.

    I have to admit as a centre-left voter, I anxiously await the fallout of the July 22 vote. Not because I care who wins or loses, but because the vote results could parlay into yet another bozo-eruption on the right. That would signal to Alberta voters, once again, that the “not-ready-for-prime-time” politicians on the right are truly not ready. One can only hope.

  6. Albertan

    July 13th, 2017

    It remains as to whether it will be the ‘Up Close and Personal’……..

  7. Andy M.

    July 13th, 2017

    Another indication of the weirdness of the upcoming vote. When Kenny was in Cochrane rousing the troops 10 days ago, he said the voting process had been made so easy through modern technology, “you could vote on a boat in the Okanagan with a beer in your hand.” I know he’s trying hard to sound like one of the good ol’ boys, but this potentially drunken sailor scenario from B.C. is probably not a great way to promote serious voting with his Alberta storm troopers.

  8. David

    July 13th, 2017

    I am not sure exactly what the Wildrose executive has in mind here. It seems to be a rather heavy handed attempt to allow them to change rules and suspend time limits for vague, unspecified reasons.

    We sometimes tend to dismiss those who seem overly concerned about government or other bodies of authority who may over reach in their power to push something through that is not in the public’s best interest. In this case, perhaps those Wildrosers who often have these types of concerns about other bodies need to look close to home and try figure out exactly what their own governing body might be trying to pull over on them.

    I have a feeling that if the unity vote does not pass with the required numbers on the Wildrose side, the executive might somehow change the rules to decrease the threshold considerably and then have a second vote which will also give Kenney more time to find new members to support his cause.

    It might be a somewhat embarrassing way to go about things, but Kenney did a number of embarrassing things in his quest to become PC leader, some of which were not compliant with their rules. Of course, now that he is the leader I am sure these infractions are unlikely to ever be fully investigated and he may rewrite those rules when he has time to get around to it.

    A few days ago Kenney did say “vote often”, which we took as a reference to the ability for people to join both parties and vote. Perhaps he has something more in mind.

  9. CuJoYYC

    July 13th, 2017

    Article 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 and presumably a few more, strikes me as Bozo Eruption repellent.


  10. July 13th, 2017

    When it comes to a Untied Conservative Party I sincerely hope that there is more leadership material to select from than Jason Kenney or Brian Jean.

    The former has never held a real job in his life (not unlike Harper), the latter seems afraid of his own shadow….or should I say the ultra right wing in his own party.

    Alberta surely needs a better election choice than either of these two cowboys.

    • Tiddo

      July 14th, 2017

      I’m hoping “Untied Conservative Party” was intentional…

    • Athabascan

      July 15th, 2017

      Sadly, there is no one with leadership and competence to vote for in the Conservative/Wildrose party.

      For those kinds of qualities one must look to Rachel Notley.

      • Brett

        July 16th, 2017

        I may not agree with all of Notley’s policies however I do agree that I do not see any potential United Conservative Party candidate that has even half the qualities of Rachael Notley.

        Lots of empty suits, huffing and puffing, getting the locals all riled up but zero when ot comes to solid policy alternatives for Alberta and Albertans. Whenever I see Jason Kenney on the media it serves to reinforce my vie of him as a buffoon, a Mjor Hoople character. BRian Jean….a bit of a wimp who is afraid to stand up for what is right because he is afraid is some of the ultra right wing ,embers of his party. Rachael Notely, IMHO, stands heads above both of them in terms of character and integrity. This, coming from someone who would definitely be considered a Lougheed Conservative.

      • Farmer B

        July 16th, 2017

        I would agree that Rachel Notley is a very competent politician. Being a strong leader involves the ability to make tough decisions and to implement your campaign promises. It is much easier to say yes to everyone’s funding requests and not care about the resulting deficit than it is to show leadership and minimize future generations obligations by attempting to live within your means. Our Premier took the path of least resistance here.

        The 2 campaign promises that stick most in my mind were getting Alberta’s finances on a more stable footing and higher royalties on energy. The NDP’s balancing of the budget still depends on the price of oil and as we all know after the royalty review, royalties are basically unchanged. When you look at the past(Sara Hoffman mentioned this at Stampede in an interview with Rick Bell) Ralph Klein said he was going to balance the budget by cutting spending and do it in 4 years and that is exactly what he did. If the measure of leadership is doing what you promise in a campaign I am siding with Ralph 🙂

        • Athabascan

          July 20th, 2017

          Ralph Klein was a tool of the oil & gas industry.

          In Calgary, he was considered the town drunk.


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