Saturday, July 22 marks a historic turning point for the conservative movement here in Alberta. On that day, an overwhelming majority voted in favour of unifying the right under the United Conservative Party.
These folks voted for more than a political realignment. They voted to restore the conservative coalition in our province for a new generation.
There is no question in my mind that the majority of folks here in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills support the unity effort.
In the months leading up to the vote, I focused my efforts on gathering input across our constituency, and found broad support both within the legacy parties and the general public. This was not a surprise. Across Alberta, the desire for unity began with the grassroots, and the grassroots will continue to sustain this movement.
On July 24, having received clear marching orders, our MLAs met for the first time. We entered the room as two separate caucuses. We voted. And we left that room a strong, principled, compassionate and United Conservative caucus.
During the meeting, I was chosen to serve as our party’s interim leader. This is an honour and a privilege, a duty I am proud to accept.
The following day, I was delighted to announce that my friend and a longtime proponent of unity, Mike Ellis, agreed to serve as deputy leader.
I know Mr. Ellis to be a man of principle and action, exactly the sort of person suited to the task at hand. His work on behalf of the people of Calgary-West, and prior to that with the Calgary Police Service, has been exemplary.
I was also pleased to announce that Richard Gotfried will serve as house leader, Prasad Panda will serve as caucus chair, and my good friend Jason Nixon will serve as the UCP caucus whip.
In order to serve our caucus and the people of Alberta in this capacity, our caucus officers have agreed to set aside any leadership aspirations of their own, and will not take an active role with any of the leadership campaigns.
This is a clear indication of our commitment to establish the UCP with true unity of purpose. We are dedicated to building this party and strengthening this movement in a spirit of kinship and mutual goodwill.
I believe unity is not an outcome; it is process. I want everyone to know that I am fully cognizant of my role in this process. I am here as a team builder. Mine is not to move this party to the left or to the right. The only direction I intend to take this party is up.
Over the next few months United Conservative Party members will elect a leader, adopt a constitutional framework, consider policies, and focus on other aspects of basic party infrastructure. This is important work, which will define the success of our party for years to come.
However, I also want folks to know that our commitment to holding the government to account remains absolute. If the NDP government sees this transition as an opportunity to make policy by stealth, it has another thing coming. Our caucus is stronger than ever, it is deeper than ever, and it is more motivated than ever.
This is a great day to be a conservative in Alberta, and I believe our best days are yet to come.
– In addition to being the interim leader of the new United Conservative Party of Alberta, Nathan Cooper is the Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA.
“If the NDP government sees this transition as an opportunity to make policy by stealth, it has another thing coming. Our caucus is stronger than ever, it is deeper than ever, and it is more motivated than ever.”NATHAN COOPER INTERIM LEADER UNITED CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF ALBERTA