Albertans favour uniting the right, and Wildrose is most popular party in the province: poll
James Wood, Postmedia News | February 21, 2017 12:46 AM ET
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntoshThe Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership race is in the home stretch and Jason Kenney is the frontrunner.
CALGARY – Albertans are in favour of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties joining together, according to a new poll that also shows both of those parties more popular than the governing NDP.
The Mainstreet Research survey conducted for Postmedia shows 54 per cent support among respondents for merging the two parties, with 37 per cent opposed.
The support is highest among PC voters, at 72 per cent, while 65 per cent of Wildrose supporters were in favour of bringing the two parties together.
Mainstreet president Quito Maggi said that with former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney pushing the idea of uniting the right as a PC leadership candidate and Wildrose Leader Brian Jean declaring himself open to the idea, conservative unification is seen as increasingly desirable.
I think the PC supporters are more establishment, they’ve been in government a long time and they’re looking forward to getting back there
“The longer that goes on, the more the general population becomes comfortable with that notion,” he said in an interview.
Maggi said the slightly lesser amount of support for unity among Wildrose supporters compared to Tories may spring from Wildrose’s anti-establishment roots.
“I think the PC supporters are more establishment, they’ve been in government a long time and they’re looking forward to getting back there,” he said.
The poll shows Wildrose as the most popular party in the province, with 38 per cent support among leaning and decided voters, followed by the PCs at 29 per cent and the NDP trailing at 23 per cent.
The Liberals and Alberta Party each have five per cent support provincewide.
In more sour news for the NDP, Premier Rachel Notley’s performance was disapproved by 57 per cent of respondents, compared to 37 per cent approval.
Jean in contrast had an approval rating of 64 per cent, with only 22 per cent disapproving of his performance as Opposition leader.
The Wildrose leader recently came out in favour of forming a single conservative party if it was approved by members and said he would step down to contest the leadership of the new party if it goes ahead.
Jean could end up squaring off against Kenney, who has pushed conservative unity on to the provincial agenda in his run for the PC’s top job.
Tyler Marr /PostmediaWildrose Leader Brian Jean.
Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said there is little in the poll that is surprising.
He noted that while there are obstacles to unification — provincial law doesn’t allow official party mergers, so Kenney wants a new party while Jean wants unification to occur with Wildrose as the legal mechanism — but the prospect of a united party is looking likely.
“I thought this was going to be much more difficult before Kenney launched it but every indication that I’ve seen now is that it’s going to happen,” said Bratt.
The poll also shows strong support for the federal Conservatives in Alberta, with 67 per cent support among leading and decided voters, compared to 24 per cent for the Liberals, six per cent for the NDP and four per cent for the Greens.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a disapproval rate of 58 per cent while 38 per cent of Albertans approve of his job performance.