Members of the Wildrose Alliance Campus Club attempted to take control of the University of Calgary Campus Conservative Association last Friday at the UCCCA's Annual General Meeting.
The Wildrose supporters bought UCCCA memberships at the door and tried to nominate a slate of their own members to run for the seven UCCCA executive positions. If elected, the Wildrose slate intended to disassociate the UCCCA from the Progressive Conservative party.
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach spoke at the AGM before the election then answered questions. Lindsay Blackett, Minister of Culture and Community Spirit, Jonathan Denis, Minister of Housing, and Cindy Ady, Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation also attended.
However, only Jonathan Denis stayed for the general election after the speech.
"You try and get here as often as you can," Stelmach told the Gauntlet. "We were here once after the campaign but it's been a busy couple years. I spoke to the conservative club yesterday at the University of Alberta and now today at the University of Calgary."
The general election was supposed to happen after Stelmach's speech, but there was disagreement about who was eligible to be nominated and vote.
The UCCCA constitution states that individuals must be a member for 30 days prior to running or voting for executive positions in the general election. It also states that executives must be members of the Conservative Party of Canada and the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta.
The vote never took place and the meeting was adjourned until a later date. The UCCCA decided that those who bought memberships at the door expecting to run for the executive or vote could be refunded.
Nine people had their memberships refunded, though their affiliations were unclear.
James Jeffrey, president of the Wildrose Club on campus, attempted to run for UCCCA VP communications.
"In one sense we didn't achieve our objective because we didn't take them over," said Jeffrey. "But in one sense we consider it a win because one: they were unable to elect a new executive; and two: Ed Stelmach, the PC party and their club were embarrassed last night."
Jeffrey said that while both clubs supported the federal conservatives, they differ on the provincial level.
"The Wildrose Alliance supporters are conservatives," he stated. "Supporters of the Progressive Conservative party are liberals."
"It's the spending habits, just look where they are right now," he continued. "We're running [a] huge deficit and it's not just because of the economic downturn like Stelmach likes to say. It's because they kept increasing spending in such large amounts."
He also claimed the UCCCA contradicted itself by waiving the 30 day membership clause in the constitution last year, while enforcing it this year.
see Conservative takover, page 9
"What looks bad is denying people the right to vote. What would have been democratic is if they had let us vote. Let the majority of people decide. Let [the] majority of people decide who should be the executive," Jeffrey stated.
Christina Rontynen, president of the UCCCA, said neither Jeffrey nor anybody on the Wildrose slate was a member of the Conservative club last year, while most voters at last year's AGM had been around the year prior to voting.
"I don't know how it worked at the door. I was the VP internal [last year] but as far as I know the majority of that room were members from the previous year," Rontynen told the Gauntlet.
She said that Jeffrey should not have based his actions on a precedent, but should have consulted her or the UCCCA constitution to clarify the rules for voting in the general election.
"Wildrose is in the end going to be the ones that are wrecking what they stand for, democracy and the constitution," she asserted.
Rontynen also addressed what she thought was responsible for the divide between the PC and Wildrose supporters.
"I think the divide comes more from allegiance to politicians than really what we believe. The progressive conservative party is a big-tent party and you have the 'big c's' and the 'little c's'. I think what it comes down to is the Wildrose party on campus has allegiance to certain politicians, we put our allegiance behind Ed and our [Members of Legislative Assembly]."
The UCCCA executive will determine a new date for the election and send out an email notice to members 30 days in advance, she added.
"Tonight was supposed to be a fun night to welcome new members, vote [in] new executives and just start off the new year," Rontynen said. "I guess people will have to get used to me as president a little bit longer."
The UCCCA constitution states the election must happen before April 15, but Rontynen said the Manager of Student Programming from the Students' Union, Jason Morgan, told her via email that there will be no repercussions given the circumstances and clear efforts to resolve the situation.