UCP getting organized in the riding – AGM scheduled

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The United Conservative Party (UCP) is getting organized in the Lesser Slave Lake provincial constituency. Interim president of the riding association Ken Vanderwell says an annual general meeting is scheduled for Feb. 12.
“It’s a bit different than what I’ve been used to,” says Vanderwell, who was previously involved in the Progressive Conservative Party riding association. “We’ll be voting in 20 directors; then they will determine the executive at the first meeting (after that).”
The UCP is the new party that came about when the Wild Rose and PC parties decided to join forces last year. Its goal is to unseat the ruling NDP in the next provincial election and getting organized at the constituency level is a first step. The next one would be finding a candidate, although with an election not expected any time soon, there isn’t a rush. In any case, Vanderwell says, there’s a policy development process the party as a whole needs to go through.
“The first provincial AGM is in Red Deer (in May). It will determine policy. The UCP has agreed they won’t put forth policies that aren’t agreed to by the membership.”
How to participate in that process will likely be a hot topic of discussion at the constituency association meetings coming up. And of course only party members can participate in the policy discussion.
“All memberships are done online now,” says Vanderwell. “And submissions on policy – all online.”
Information on those and other party matters are on the party website – unitedconservative.ca.
Asked what appeals to him about the UCP, Vanderwell says for starters, he’s a fiscal conservative, and believes the government should be too.
“I also want my government to be progressive socially and I think the UCP delivers on both of those.”
As for predicting who might step up to seek the UCP nomination in Lesser Slave Lake, Vanderwell can’t say.
“I think they’re all holding their cards pretty close to their chests right now,” he says.
Wait until after the policy convention in May, he adds. That’s when prospective candidates will see “what this party is going to be.”
What that is remains to be seen, although it’s expected its leader, Jason Kenney will set the tone. That’s fine with Vanderwell, who regards Kenney as “the only individual with the ability to pull it off.
“He’s really good at speaking,” Vanderwell says. “His history as a member of parliament really shines through.”
Lesser Slave Lake constituency is going to be is a bit different in shape and population than it was before. The Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission recommended the inclusion of Calling Lake in the riding, after residents there had requested that.

Interim constituency association president Ken Vanderwell

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