Wildrose, PCs to merge

Alberta's two right-centre parties have struck a tentative deal to merge, sources tell The Canadian Press.

The two party leaders — Brian Jean of the Wildrose and Jason Kenney of the Progressive Conservatives — are expected to speak to the deal at a news conference later Thursday.

The deal would still have to be approved by a majority of members in both parties. 

A group comprised of representatives of both parties has been meeting for the last two months to hammer out the deal.

Kenney won the PC party leadership in March on a platform to merge, and both Kenney and Jean have said they'll run for the leadership of a consolidated party.

Both sides have said they need to work quickly to get a united party up and running with candidates, an executive, and constituency boards in time for the next election.

By law, the next election must be held sometime in the spring of 2019.

Premier Rachel Notley has the option to call the election earlier if she believes circumstances warrant, but has stressed she plans to follow the law.

The Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives must also work out money issues because elections officials say any two parties that merge cannot take their assets with them.

Kenney has argued vote splitting in the 2015 election set back both parties and helped the NDP win, particularly in the key battleground of Calgary. He has said a merger is a natural evolution of two free-enterprise parties.

Any merger would end more than a decade of drama and acrimony.

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