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Kenney leadership in question as UCP annual general meeting set to begin in Calgary

The United Conservative Party’s annual general meeting is set to begin Friday as Premier Jason Kenney deals with rising discontent in his caucus, party, and from Albertans.

Kenney is expected to deliver a keynote address Saturday and party members are scheduled to debate and vote on a series of motions throughout the weekend.

Twenty-two UCP constituency associations are demanding a leadership review of Kenney in the next three months and they represent the required 25 per cent of boards in support.

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

Members are expected to vote at the meeting on a contentious motion to increase that threshold to 29, or one-third, associations.

UCP MLA for Airdrie-Cochrane Peter Guthrie claims that political action committees (PACs) that support Kenney are offering to cover ticket fees, along with other favours, in exchange for votes on issues going before the party at the AGM.

One of those issues is the aforementioned threshold for triggering a leadership review.

RELATED: Kenney backbencher delivers blunt warning on ignoring party member concerns

MLA Todd Loewen and Opposition NDP have called on the elections commissioner to investigate the legality of using PAC money in such a way.

Loewen says in his letter to Glen Resler that he believes using the PAC money to cover AGM fees violates two different sections of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, including Sec. 41.41(1)b, which states third parties may not spend money to support the work of registered parties, including fundraising.

He’s looking for Resler to determine whether that is in fact the case.

“I’m concerned that this could lead to an election that could be considered rigged and I don’t want that to happen,” explained Loewen. “I would like Mr. Visitor to come down with the decision on whether these activities are allowed or not.”

He says there are always rumours going around and, currently, there is no proof of the funds being used to cover AGM fees, but that is what an investigation would be for.

“I think we owe a duty to elected officials to investigate and make sure that the facts are known and make sure that we have fair elections.”

READ MORE: Alberta MLA calls on elections commissioner to investigate alleged UCP misuse of PAC money

Kenney responded to the allegations Wednesday afternoon, saying it was “interesting” that reports leaked from a private caucus meeting.

“I’m not involved in third-party organizations, but third-party political organizations are free within the law to be involved in politics. And my understanding is that, for example, delegate registration fees are not considered a contribution,” he said.

“Organizations have supported the attendance of youth delegates who can’t afford to go and things like that. That’s hardly new… And I would expect fully that any organization involved is carefully following all of the relevant rules.”

Political scientists from Calgary’s Mount Royal University say they expect the event to stray from team-building activities and policy discussions into a debate on Kenney’s leadership.

Socializing events, youth-focused meetings, a government bear pit session, and a fiscal policy forum are also scheduled.

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