Jim Prentice on Wildrose merger: 'I don't know what she's talking about'
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, May 25, 2014 11:03AM EDT
Jim Prentice says anyone who called Danielle Smith about uniting the right in Alberta "weren't speaking on my behalf," and says the Wildrose leader should disclose who broached the topic with her.
Prentice officially launched his campaign to lead Alberta's Progressive Conservatives last week, but sources had confirmed weeks ago that he would be joining the race.
After word of Prentice's pending announcement got out, Smith claimed that representatives from his campaign approached her about merging the two parties.
She would not reveal who approached her, saying only that Prentice "knows who called me."
In an interview with CTV's Question Period that aired Sunday, Prentice said "I can tell you categorically that no person representing me at any time during this campaign has ever approached anybody discussing that subject."
"I don't know what she's speaking about," he added, before challenging Smith to reveal who approached her.
While Prentice was adamant that his campaign did not broach the topic of a merger, he avoided questions about whether his representatives tried to convince potential opponents not to enter the leadership race.
"My campaign is based on the agenda that I'm putting forward. I'm running on a positive campaign," Prentice said.
"I don't have control over everything that everybody says in a political campaign."
Prentice, long considered to have federal leadership aspirations, said he will "take my chances" against Wildrose, which is riding high in the polls. He also acknowledged that "there's a lot of work to be done" to rebuild a party that's been weighed down by former premier Alison Redford's spending scandals, which forced her from the top job.
He will do that by speaking to the issues Albertans care about, he said, including the province's fiscal position, as well as the relationship between government and voters.
"They want to believe in the Progressive Conservative party," he said. "They want to see the party back on its game and I intend to deliver on that promise."
Prentice is up against former jobs minister Thomas Lukaszuk and former infrastructure minister Ric McIver for the PC leadership. Dave Hancock will serve as interim leader and premier until the vote in September.