The new Wildrose Independence Party (WIP) has named Paul Hinman as its interim leader. The new leader was appointed by the party’s Interim Joint Board of Governors made up of representatives of the now defunct Freedom Conservative Party and Wexit Alberta.
Members of the two parties voted on June 29th to unify their two groups into the WIP.
Hinman’s appointment echos the early original Wildrose Party, also made up of a merger of two smaller parties which had lost their lone seat in the Tory sweep of 2008. Hinman led the predecessor Alberta Alliance from 2005 to 2008, and was the first leader of the Wildrose from 2008 to 2009. In that time, he served two non-consecutive terms as an Alberta MLA.
The party is expected to elect its first leader in late 2020 or early 2021. In the interim, Hinman committed to building the party into fighting form and guiding it through its founding convention, likely to be scheduled for the fall.
“The time for asking Ottawa for a fair deal is over,” said Hinman. “The time for half-hearted conservatism is over. Alberta’s time as a subservient to the Laurentian elite is over. The time has come for we as Albertans to stand up for ourselves and put our house in order. It’s time to radically alter our relationship with Ottawa.”
“My mission is to put the new Wildrose Independence Party on the playing field and make sure that Albertans can become fully autonomous. If we can grow this party fast enough, hopefully Premier Kenney will move on these key issues and we will not have to wait till 2023 to start. We need to put our house in order, or as the air attendant says, you have to put on your mask before you can help others. “Alberta’s best interest is also Canada’s best interest.”
Hinman supported the Wildrose-PC merger in 2017 and backed Jason Kenney’s bid to become UCP leader at the time.
A poll conducted a month before the WIP merger for the Western Standard saw the then-pending party in third place at 10 per cent of voter support, behind the UCP at 40 and the NDP and 34.
The same poll found between 45 and 48 per cent of Albertans backing independence, providing the new sovereigntist party with a potentially fertile base of voters to tap into. Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams told the Western Standard that support for independence could see the new Wildrose reclaim much of the first Wildrose’s support.
“Some of us warned of the dangers of stoking such inclinations [independence]in the lead up to the 2019 election. Such anger can turn against leaders/governments who fail to meet the expectations raised. And indeed, the new Wildrose Independence Party appears to be capitalizing on the growing legitimacy of anti-federalist [and pro] independence rhetoric.”
“I would not be surprised to see the highest support [for the WIP] in former Wildrose and Social Credit strongholds [i.e. central and southern Alberta]. As the poll also seems to suggest, there may be enduring challenges for opponents of the UCP and Kenney, splitting their vote for alternatives.”
Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard