WATCH ABOVE: NewsTalk 770 host and former Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith speaks to Global News regarding a potential PC/Wildrose merger.
The two party leaders will speak to the deal at a news conference Thursday afternoon, which is expected to happen around 1 p.m. in Edmonton. Any deal would still have to be approved by a majority of members in both parties.
The Wildrose has previously said it will need 75 per cent or more of its members to approve the deal while the Progressive Conservatives say they will require a simple majority of 50 per cent plus one.
A group of representatives from both parties has been meeting for the last two months to hammer out a deal.
“Remember, when they initially set out their timeline they were wanting to have something done by the end of April, so we’re a couple of weeks late,” former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith said on her Calgary radio show Thursday morning.
“I understand that there were a couple of things that were standing in the way initially,” Smith explained.
“One was that the word ‘progressive’ was something that the Progressive Conservatives were really keen on maintaining in the statement of principles – but ‘progressive’ has come to mean a bunch of different things to a bunch of different people.”
Jean recently said he was optimistic about the unity talks but the direction of the party will be decided by the grassroots at the end of the day. Smith also addressed that.
“Another [stumbling block] was around the respect for grassroots members. Whether or not they would be, for instance, perusing more of a delegate-style convention to choose a leader – which is how Jason Kenney was chosen – or more of a one member, one vote style – which is how Brian Jean was voted in.”
There is a sense of urgency for conservatives looking to unite the right as Premier Rachel Notley must drop the writ for the next election in the spring of 2019.
“I know that they are all quite keen to try to get that [leadership] race wrapped up before the end of this year, because let’s face it, the NDP could call an election early if they chose to,” Smith said.
More to come…
— With files from Melissa Ramsay, Global News, and The Canadian Press