Alberta UCP caucus merger brings $337,000 deficit, criticism from candidate

Alberta conservative leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer says the caucus he seeks to lead needs to get its financial house in order.

Schweitzer says the new United Conservative Party won’t be a credible voice for fiscal management if it can’t keep its caucus out of a projected $337,000-deficit this year.

The party was created last month when the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties voted to merge.

That has resulted in a duplication of staffers combined with a loss of legislature funding.

Before the merger, the two caucuses had been receiving a combined $4 million a year for staff and operations.

Former Wildrose Leader Brian Jean, who is also running for leadership of the merged party, says caucus will make the necessary changes to come in on budget if he wins.

A statement from the campaign of leadership candidate Jason Kenney, who was formerly leader of the Progressive Conservatives, seemed to lay the blame for the shortfall on the Wildrose.

“Obviously Jason wasn’t a member of the Wildrose caucus, so he can’t speak to what might have transpired under someone else’s leadership,” campaign spokesman Blaise Boehmer said in an email.

Boehmer continued that reports of a caucus deficit and potential staff layoffs are troubling.

“Taxpayers, of course, deserve answers,” he said.

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