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Two political parties in oil-rich Alberta – the Progressive Conservative Party and the Wildrose Party - have tentatively agreed to merge, according to a new report by Reuters. The conjoined party will become the opposition to the New Democratic Party in the Canadian province, a spokesperson from Wildrose said on Thursday.
The next provincial elections are due to take place in 2019. The right-wingers are hoping to seriously challenge Premier Rachel Notley at the polls, unlike what happened in 2015 when divisions amongst conservative factions cost them the province’s top office.
The merger still needs to be approved by members of both parties to actually happen.
Oil from Alberta is the United States’ single largest source of oil. The province oil resources are vast, but almost three years of low oil prices have created a C$10.3 billion hole in the state’s budget.
The unified conservative party is expected to support policies that cut costs and taxes for oil and gas companies. The leaders of the two merging parties have said they oppose strong environmental regulations and the phase-out of coal plants, which compares to policies pushed by freshman U.S. President Donald Trump.
The Progressive Conservatives controlled Alberta for 44 years before the 2015 elections. Conservative critics of the new administration say high corporate taxes, as well as emissions caps, have created an unattractive investment environment.
"If the election was today they [the NDP] would be sunk and defeating a unified conservative party would be very difficult," Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University told Reuters. "Some people are blaming the entire economic downturn on the NDP, even though it was occurring before they were elected."
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…