This is the week that the Progressive Conservative Party – once government now reduced to a single-digit third party – launches its leadership campaign. In the mix are candidates who, while tasked to restoring the party’s once grand image, each have their own distinct plan for becoming leader. Obviously, none of them deny the awful fact that the PCs basically lost their way after forty years of running the province. Such a fallen state was manifested in the wholesale electoral repudiation in 2015 where the improbable NDP emerged to become government. Since then, the party, as well as the province, continue to endure some very rough times. Nobody in caucus seems to know how to rebuild the party’s fortunes other than to come up with a new leader who has the best way to marry progressive and conservative values. In so many words, return the province to its once prosperous self. Right now Alberta languishes in the economic doldrums with sinking resource prices, growing unemployment and rising debt. Enter the scene, Jason Kenney, a former senior minister in the recently defeated Harper government, with a new take on things. As a pragmatist with very strong conservative values, Kenney wants to win the leadership so that he can then dismantle the party by rolling it into the official opposition Wild Rose Party before the next provincial election in 2015. Kenney is both astute and discreet to know that he can’t pull this coup off unless he can sell to the Conservatives, like McKay did back in 2003, that they can only defeat the NDP if they are united behind a platform that promotes economic prosperity based on less government, lower taxes, and rising oil prices. Kenney, like the other candidates, feel that the Notley government is really only an aberration that can be cleared up by recommitting the Conservative movement to cleaner government. As a conservative myself, I am not sure if the forces of revolutionary change that recently swept the province can be so easily reversed just by reaffirming traditional values and spending some time in opposition. Demographics being what they are have altered the face of Alberta greatly over the last decade so that the province is comprised more than ever of a growing immigrant class, swelling welfare ranks, and a depressed oil sector. While polls continue to show a strong conservative influence throughout the province, with the exception of Edmonton, Kenney’s big plan may be fraught with some pitfalls such as bringing two very disparate parties together under a new name. I am not sure that the Wild Rose would go for Kenney’s expert wooings given the fact that polling still gives them a fighting chance of winning. Kenney has to have contacts within the Wild Rose to exploit internal weakness or hope that there is enough interest to support a radical makeover. One thing I know for sure is that, if it happens, Billy Jean won’t be around to be the new leader. He is just too rural to attract votes within Calgary or Edmonton. One thing I am pretty confident about is that Kenney’s campaign is backed by the oil patch because they have the most to gain if it succeeds.