BREAKING: Kenney scrapes by in leadership vote, but questions remain if he can hang on

Premier Jason Kenney scraped by with a victory for the much anticipated UCP leadership review taking 51.4% of the vote — moments later shocking the crowd at Spruce Meadows by announcing he was stepping down.

"Well, while 51% of the vote passes the constitutional threshold of the majority, it clearly is not adequate support to continue on. And that is why tonight I've informed the president of the party of my intention to step down as leader of the United Conservative Party," said Kenney

"We inherited profound physical economic challenges. And then we went through three once-in-a-century crises — the largest public health crisis in a century, the collapse of the world economy in nearly a century, and the first time ever experienced negative oil prices."

"Despite all of that, we got the job done, delivering on nearly 90% of our election commitments while turning around the economy so we're leading Canada in economic and job growth, balancing the budget for the first time in 14 years."

Kenney says he fully respects those who voted against him.

"While we have our internal differences, we must remember the shared values that unite us as Conservatives. And we must always remember the promise of Alberta."

"Now, let's get on with the real show tonight, The Battle of Alberta. As Darryl Sutter said yesterday it's bringing our province together. It's the best thing ever. I couldn't agree more. God bless you all, and God bless the province of Alberta."

Kenney, a former Cabinet minister in the Stephen Harper government, won his place as leader of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta in 2017 on the platform of uniting his party with the Wildrose Party. The two merged to form the United Conservative Party or UCP.

From its formation in 2017, the party took a large lead in the polls and went on to win a large majority in the 2019 provincial election, defeating incumbent NDP Premier Rachel Notley with a haul of 63 seats and nearly 55% of the popular vote. 

Within his first year as premier, Alberta, and the world, was plunged into the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, and the following spring, calls for a leadership review for Kenney began.

In April 2021, 16 MLAs wrote a letter to Kenney criticizing his response to the pandemic and bringing in strict COVID-19 measures. Following that, Kenney received another letter from dozens of constituency association (CA) board members requesting him to resign. 

MLAs Todd Loewen and Drew Barnes, who openly criticized Kenney were expelled from caucus. Several other MLAs were demoted.

The following September, more than 30 UCP CA presidents pushed for an early review and by November's UCP annual general meeting (AGM), 27 of Alberta's 87 CAs forced the early review. During that time, Kenney attempted to raise the threshold from 22 to 29 CAs needed to sign on to force an early review, but failed. 

An in-person vote was set for a special general meeting (SGM) on April 9 in Red Deer, however, as the purchase of memberships grew and the expected turnout ballooned to 20,000 members, it was determined the Red Deer venue would not suffice. 

Venues in Alberta's three major cities — Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer —were floated until the UCP switched altogether to a mail-in ballot system, even though 33 CA presidents demanded the vote remain in-person at the SGM in Red Deer. 

With the SGM cancelled, the UCP refunded the $99 fee for members to attend. 

Member protests were ignored and fears a mail-in ballot would be chaotic were realized with some members receiving double, even triple ballots and others not receiving one at all. 

While Kenney was busy with membership drives, grassroots movements dedicated to seeing Kenney voted down during the leadership review including Take Back Alberta piled on the pressure.

Kenney, obviously feeling the pressure, was quoted at an event in northeast Calgary told the audience he needs to stay on to protect Albertans from the "extreme views" and "racism" of those looking to end his leadership of the UCP. 

“Folks, I’ll tell you what does not belong. As long as I am leader of this party and premier of Alberta, voices or racism, hatred, and intolerance will find no home in this party,” he said.

Pressure mounted again with the controversy around Kenney confirming he was interviewed by the RCMP in March regarding allegations of voter fraud in the 2017 UCP leadership race he won. As well, it was revealed Elections Alberta is currently investigating allegations about bulk UCP ballots purchases from a few credit cards. 

In April, more bad press hit Kenney when Al Browne resigned from his position as Calgary-Hayes CA president highlighting the bullying of MLAs and divisive treatment and statements towards Albertans from Kenney's staff. 

UCP President Cynthia Moore said the leadership review has seen membership double saying the "engagement has been extraordinary." 

More to come... 

Reporter (Alberta)

Melanie Risdon is an Alberta Reporter for the Western Standard and Alberta Report based in the Calgary Headquarters. She has over 20 years’ experience in media at Global News, Rogers and Corus.

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(15) comments

Berniemoore

Amazing , S Dakota and Florida have not suffered huge loss of economies, S Dakota never shut down anthing and did not buy into the mask BS , all your own stupidity Kenney

Clash

When Jason was with the CTF scrumming with Ralph Kline in the Legislature basement, Mano a Mano as it were! He was great. Jason was the one pushing tax reduction and relief and Ralph took some his advice. It led to one of the biggest and longest economic booms in the history of the world. I remember thinking back then how great it would be if Jason Kenney was Prime Minister of Canada. Even Paul Martin took JK's advice and he was a pretty decent PM for a Liberal. When did Jason turn from being a "Champion of the People" to a "Politician"? When or why did he become a; Go back on his word, Religious Persecutor, Elitist, Puppet of Trudeau! Reminds me of Doug Ford! There was a time I would have donated a Kidney to Kenney, but now I am happy and relieved that he is gone. The only question Albertan's have now is who can we elect that can't be subverted, and corrupted, by the WEF cronies currently in charge of Canada!

MD

It's a great day for Alberta!! Finally he resigns, it's been a painful 2 years.

LibertyOrDeath

I call BS. More election turn out then ever before and he STILL wins? That many people weren't voting to show their enthusiastic support for a clearly terrible premier, they were voting to expel this globalist from his position.

And no Kenney, us conservatives are NOT the same. I would never lock down a perfectly healthy population of people and create a biometric state for a non-existent virus. The unbelievable levels of cruelty your government endorsed are pure evil and deserve greater punishment than you will ever receive.

Regardless, good riddance. I fear whatever replaces this lockdown-loving zealot, but I'm hoping for the best.

Berniemoore

Totally agree , so disappointed as what Kenney turned out to be , just another Globalist WEF puppet , now just 9 more across Canada must be removed

Alberta Farmer

51.4% of people who voted are still morons!

LRMT

Clearly much was going on behind the scenes to encourage Kenney to resign. Regardless, Alberta is far better off for it. He was a shining example if all that is wrong with federalist leaders. Notley is of course cut from the same federalist cloth.

The UCP was assured a loss in 2023 with Kenney leading; there was no recovering from his fragmentation.

A strong Alberta centric leader is needed, one that places Alberta, and personal rights and freedoms first before all else. Brian Jean should is probably the frontrunner now...but is he any less of a federalist that Kenney is? I don't think so, but we shall see.

Free Canada

The Foreign Funded activists really put a Huge effort to getting rid of JK. All the operatives showed themselves in there efforts to remove JK. And the MSM turned on the jets too. Look at all the JK haters that came out from within the party to hate JK. These are just paid operatives. I am sure a new leader is been in the works. And this new leader will know who the NDP operative are. JK could have stayed with 51.4 %, but why. We know Danielle Smith and Brian Jean are operatives. And they will run. But they will be rejected. I hope finance minister Towes or Energy minister Savage run as leader. Savage would be great. First Female premier of Alberta.

amazur

Sorry not first! How about Redford!

susjangrant.sg

You must like lockdowns that murdered many. Flip flop liars are NOT the way.

Clash

And Notley was premier too. Have you forgotten that disaster already?

d_carroll50

Wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors but his leadership was a failure and we need to move on. Notley cannot be allowed to get her grimy commie hands of the ring of power. She will be an even bigger tyrant then Kenney if she is not stopped. There is now lots of time to get a new leader that is halfway competent before the next election. Looking forward to putting some of this negatively into the review mirror and starting fresh.

Berta baby

The digit ID will not be commencing shortly. FJK

amazur

It doesn't work locking up the innocent on contrived legislation! We need an individual with a western mindset! For a brief time JK seemed to have it but then it slowly evaporated & came to this!

FreeMan

Well, now we need a tough SOB to show up, somebody who will not kiss Ottawa Butt or Trudeau butt. We need to get this thing settled or leave confederation.

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