The United Conservative Party annual general meeting starts on Friday in Calgary, with 3,768 registrations as of the end of the day Thursday.
On-site registration opened at 2 p.m. Friday, so that number is expected to grow.
Members attending the UCP AGM represent a wide range of views but it’s the priorities of those connected to Take Back Alberta that some are talking about according to one expert.
“It will very much be Take Back Alberta’s party this weekend,” said University of Calgary political science professor Lisa Young.
Take Back Alberta is a group registered as a third-party political advertiser with Elections Alberta and has been pushing for change around various social issues.
At last year’s AGM, half the UCP board members that were elected said they were like-minded social conservatives.
Take Back Alberta leader David Parker said on X on Thursday: “This weekend begins a new age in Alberta. After this AGM, the grassroots of the UCP will be in charge. Those who do not listen to the grassroots or attempt to thwart their involvement in the decision making process, will be removed from power.”
The influence of the elected board only goes so far as the board of a political party doesn’t determine its policy.
“I don’t think we should see this as Take Back Alberta determining public policy in the province, but certainly they are exerting a non-trivial influence,” Young said.
Many of the 30 proposals being debated are in line with the views of Take Back Alberta.
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One proposal is aimed at protecting an individual’s right to refuse any medical procedure they might disagree with.
“No government, business, corporation, entity, non-profit, or any other organization, institution or society has the right to mandate, force, or coerce an individual into a medical intervention or procedure, regardless of the societal benefit or otherwise,” states Resolution 4.
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Another policy proposal calls for the immediate end of all provincial funding for supervised consumption sites in Alberta.
Young says it’s likely the Smith government will respond to some of the issues that Take Back Alberta grassroots members are interested in, but it won’t be adopting the group’s policy agenda fully.
She says the leader of the party always has to be looking over their shoulder and thinking strategically about things like leadership reviews.
“Any ‘small-c conservative’ premier in Alberta would be paying attention to their level of support with the grassroots party members. We know that since Ralph Klein, no conservative premier has finished their term in Alberta,” Young said.
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Other policies that will be debated include:
- Ending provincial funding of supervised consumption sites;
- Prohibiting the implementation of 15-minute cities
- Requiring teachers and school administrators to inform parents of students under 16 about their child’s intent to change their name or pronouns.
“Those are going to be the issues where, potentially there will be some interesting conversation that takes place and possibly some tension between the leader and the grassroots,” Young said.
The AGM continues on Saturday with board election voting, policy debate and voting and a speech from Premier Danielle Smith.
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