Harper joins Alberta PCs to back Kenney
If you are a Wildrose member, you can still purchase a PC Alberta membership to vote for Jason Kenney and his plan for conservative unity …
Former prime minister Stephen Harper says he’s joined the provincial Progressive Conservative party in order to back Jason Kenney, and he’s urging Wildrose members to do the same.
Harper made the comments in a new fundraising letter for Kenney, the former MP running on a platform of merging the PCs with the Wildrose in a new party, calling his former lieutenant “a fierce campaigner.”
“That’s why I’ve purchased a membership in the provincial Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta to vote for Jason Kenney to become its next leader,” he wrote in the appeal.
If you are a Wildrose member, you can still purchase a PC Alberta membership to vote for Jason Kenney and his plan for conservative unity
In the letter, Harper urges individuals to donate to Kenney’s campaign and buy party memberships, making a particular reference to Wildrose supporters.
“If you are a Wildrose member, you can still purchase a PC Alberta membership to vote for Jason Kenney and his plan for conservative unity,” writes Harper.
“In fact, many of my friends hold a membership in both parties today, just as they did when we merged the federal PC Party and Canadian Alliance.”
Harper has already played a major role in Kenney’s campaign, endorsing the former MP and his plan for conservative unity at his final Stampede barbecue as an MP last summer. At the Tory convention earlier this month, Harper delivered a closed-door speech to young supporters of Kenney who had been bused in by the campaign for PC Youth Association executive elections.
In an interview Tuesday, Kenney said he welcomed the support from his former boss.
“It sends a strong message,” said Kenney.
“He knows what he’s talking about and I think his voice will be respected.”
But leadership hopeful Byron Nelson said he doesn’t expect a big effect from Harper’s appeal.
“With all due respect to the former prime minister, whom I’ve supported over the years, he’s not going to shake any of my supporters,” said the Calgary lawyer.
“I’m just not a believer that endorsements shake people.”
The PC party will choose its new leader from among Kenney, Nelson, Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke and former St. Albert MLA Stephen Khan in a delegated convention next March. The first delegate selection meetings, where local PCs vote for a slate of 15 delegates, are being held this week.
The Harper letter comes at the same time as Kenney warns of NDP supporters and “radical activists” who are “infiltrating” the PC party to try to prevent him from winning the Tory leadership.
In a fundraising email sent on the weekend, Kenney linked to a conservative blog making the infiltration allegation. It featured a Twitter post by Calgary writer Mike Morrison, who said Kenney could be stopped by Albertans buying a PC membership, attending their local PC delegate selection meeting and voting against delegates backing Kenney.
In an interview Tuesday, Morrison said he voted for the NDP in last year’s election, but prior to that had supported the PCs.
Morrison said his objection to Kenney isn’t about uniting the right, but stems from his record on LGBTQ rights as an MP and leadership candidate.
He questioned why the Kenney campaign was concerned about his efforts when the former MP is trying to bring Wildrose members into the Tory fold.
“I’m just saying what I’m doing and I’m not doing anything that he’s not doing,” said Morrison.
Kenney said anyone is welcome to join the PCs but, “I should be free to point out to free-enterprisers that this is happening.
“I’m not calling to bar anyone from the party,” he said.
But Starke said Kenney’s issues about infiltration gave him a “pretty good chuckle.”
He said if Albertans are joining the party to stop Kenney, “it’s every bit as valid . . . as people becoming members because they want to see Jason Kenney destroy the PC party.”
PC party president Katherine O’Neill said she won’t comment on individual campaigns but noted the PCs have always been a welcoming, big-tent party.
“In our past leadership races, we have always seen a lot of interest and a lot of uptake in memberships. This is no different. A lot of new memberships are being taken out and we’re excited by that, because people are coming to the party and wanting to be involved,” she said Tuesday.