Alberta premier’s future in question: UCP constituency associations pass motion for leadership review

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney could be facing a leadership review sooner than expected.

At least 22 constituency associations have signed onto a motion that asks for a leadership review to happen sooner than April.

The constituency association presidents are also asking for an independent firm to handle the review.

“We have a regular leadership review built into our party constitution, which is a good thing for accountability,” Premier Jason Kenney said at a press conference Monday.

“In terms of that or other motions, that’s up to the UCP board, the party board, to deal with those matters and I’m sure they’ll do so in the appropriate way.”

The constituency associations are asking for a leadership review to happen within the next three months.

Their various presidents are also asking for an independent firm to handle the review.

“It’s no secret here in Alberta, we had a very divisive and polarized debate on how best to respond to COVID. This is a province with a lot of freedom-loving people. One of the things I love about the province is those who want to protect their freedoms and are skeptical about government overreach,” Kenney added.

“I can understand why so many folks have felt frustrated by the public health measures we had to introduce at various times to protect our health-care system here in Alberta. Those frustrations are being felt in my own party and caucus, there’s no secret about that.”

The party’s annual general meeting is set to get underway Friday.

It’s expected the UCP will call for a special resolution to make the threshold for an early leadership review to change from one-quarter of all constituency associations (22 offices) to one-third (29 offices).

“At the end of the day, it’s my responsibility as premier, and the government’s responsibility, to take responsible actions. We have done that, and I do believe the vast majority of folks in my party are united around our common values and goals,” Kenney said.

Kenney under siege

A Mount Royal University political scientist says the premier is essentially under siege, with how little support he has right now.

“He’s got this leadership review being forced, he’s got Brian Jean openly challenging his leadership as he runs for the nomination in Fort McMurray, he is being challenged by censure vote in the Alberta legislature… He’s openly being challenged and questioned by members of his caucus and he’s got the lowest popularity ratings of any leader in the country,” said MRU’s Lori Williams.

“This is more bad news for Jason Kenney and an early leadership vote–that’s going to occur around the same time as the Fort McMurray by-election. It’s going to be front and centre in the news. That makes it a little bit more difficult for him to push things in a more positive direction.”

Calls for Kenney’s resignation started as early as the beginning of 2021, says Williams, and they only grew louder over the summer when the fourth wave of COVID-19 overwhelmed hospitals in the province.

“There’s a lot of concern around Jason Kenny’s leadership and particularly his ability to manage the challenges that Alberta is facing right now,” she said.

“It’s is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine how Jason Kenney can push back against this.”

-with files from Kristy Kilburn

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