Kenney confident he’ll remain UCP leader despite some MLAs organizing against him

As we approach the United Conservative Party’s leadership review, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he’s unconcerned as several MLAs and other conservatives try to undermine his leadership.

“There will always be some people who are in a kind of permanent opposition mindset, and there will always be unfortunately a small number of people with truly extreme views,” Kenney said on Wednesday.

“I believe that the vast majority of Alberta conservatives want a common sense, mainstream, free-enterprise government and leadership, and that’s why I’m confident about receiving an endorsement from the majority of mainstream conservative members on April 9th.”

CityNews has obtained a partial recording of a town hall held in Glendon, Alta. involving Dave Hanson, MLA for Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul.

Hanson has not responded to CityNews’ request for comment, but Vitor Marciano — an advisor to former Wildrose leader Brian Jean — is also heard in the audio. He confirmed to CityNews the recording is of him and Hanson.

In the recording, Hanson shared his concerns over “interference” in the leadership review and said there are meetings taking place all over the province to try and get rid of Kenney as leader of the UCP.

Marciano tells CityNews there have been around 200 meetings like this one which ranged from 15 to 150 people in attendance. He says he’s personally spoken at six of them.

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Marciano can be heard also be heard in the recording making a comparison between Kenney and Russian dictator Joseph Stalin regarding vote counting and said he fears the leadership review could be fixed.

“Joseph Stalin once said, I don’t give a damn who votes, I care who counts the votes,” Marciano added.

Kenney denounced the comments and said he’s open to constructive criticism.

“I’m happy to be held accountable as a leader and people are free to come out and vote according to their judgement at our leadership review but comparing me to a genocidal dictator I think demonstrates the nature of some of that opposition,” he said.

“In politics, you’re always going to have a small number of people who make extreme statements like that, but thankfully, I don’t think views like that reflect the views of the vast majority of Alberta — or for that matter the vast majority of Alberta conservatives.”

The leadership review will be held in Red Deer on April 9.

When asked what threshold of support he is aiming for to continue leading the UCP, Kenney responded, “In a democracy, a majority is 50 per cent plus one.”

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