It has been a long, rocky road that never did lead to Red Deer.
The United Conservative Party (UCP) will announce the results of Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership review between 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Kenney said he’ll respect the vote result, even if he gets less than what should be an embarrassingly low bar no premier before him has ever set — 50% plus one to stay on.
Tuesday in Washington D.C. Kenney told reporters people who say 90% support would be acceptable “aren’t appreciating the context of this.”
One person who said “80-90%” would be an acceptable margin to give Kenney clout to carry on as premier, was his friend Tom Flanagan, University of Calgary professor emeritus of political science and former top advisor to former prime minister Stephen Harper.
But never mind. Kenney said the thousands of new Albertans, unhappy with his COVID-19 mandates, that bought memberships to vote against him wanted to “destabilize the government” and won’t “stick around.”
What about the thousands of new members the Kenney team signed up at the last minute to meet the March 19 date set for voting eligibility? Are their intentions acceptable? Will they stick around?
The concerns of Albertans who suffered under his mandates — police, nurses, teachers, labourers, parents — still don’t appear to be important to Kenney who at one point appealed to “mainstream conservatives,” whoever he perceives them to be, to save him.
Aren’t critics who didn’t think he stood up to the federal government’s destruction of Alberta’s energy sector mainstream enough?
This is one example of Kenney’s dismissive arrogance that frustrated members of his caucus lament.
But stand down critics, move along, no lessons apparently learned.
It appears the premier will carry on in the same manner that got him into this review mess if he gets any majority yes vote.
He warned he expects critics to fall in line. Or what? A purge? Or nomination papers not signed to run in the May 2023 provincial election?
The dissatisfaction with Kenney’s leadership started brewing long ago. In April 2021, 16 MLAs wrote a letter to Kenney — on behalf of their constituents — criticizing his stringent COVID-19 measures.
Soon after, a letter signed by dozens of constituency association (CA) board members demanded Kenney’s immediate resignation.
MLAs who openly criticized Kenney were expelled from caucus or demoted.
That September, more than 30 UCP CA presidents pushed for an early review.
By November the threshold of 22 CAs required to sign on to force an early review was met and surpassed — 27 of Alberta’s 87 constituencies.
An attempt by Kenney to raise the threshold to 29 CAs failed.
The date for an in-person vote was set to be held at the special general meeting (SGM) April 9 in Red Deer.
Then venues in three cities — Edmonton, Calgary, and Red Deer — were contemplated because an expected turnout of 20,000 members couldn’t be accommodated at the 2,000-capacity Red Deer facility.
But it was changed to a mail-in ballot despite demands from 33 CA presidents to keep the SGM in Red Deer.
The UCP also ignored a proposal by CAs to help offset the $99 fee for members experiencing financial hardship, charged full fees, then refunded them when the SGM was cancelled.
Members subsequently received double ballots, triple ballots, or no ballots. Liberal party and old Wild Rose party members who never signed up with the UCP received ballots.
Despite more protests, the UCP decided to take pressure off Canada Post and set up ballot drop-off boxes in constituencies.
The Take Back Alberta movement gained traction as meetings were held in halls and parking lots across the province.
Strangest thing, all these racists started crawling out from under rocks, according to Kenney and his supporters.
Nomination challengers to Kenney insiders House Leader Jason Nixon and Deputy House Leader Joseph Schow? Racist! Disqualified.
Kenney repeatedly said — particularly during membership drives in ethnic communities — his critics were extremist and racist, bugs attracted to his light.
Kenney adopted the same character assassination attack methods favoured by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Then that RCMP matter surfaced. Kenney confirmed in March he was interviewed by the RCMP about allegations of voter fraud in the 2017 UCP leadership race he won.
Earlier this month it was revealed Elections Alberta is investigating allegations about bulk UCP membership purchases.
In April, 40-year loyal conservative Al Browne resigned from his position as Calgary-Hayes CA president.
“I like Jason, but I don’t agree with his management style. If Jason doesn’t want to change, then Jason should quit,” said Browne, who said Kenney is a friend.
“We’ve gone from a membership of 160,000 to I hear almost 60,000 right now. Where did that 100,000 people go since he became leader? Albertans haven’t changed.” Browne said private sector employees would be fired for things Kenney lets UCP staffers and MLAs get away with.
He pointed to bullying of MLAs and mocking Albertans in tweets, calling them Putin backers, driven by personal grudges and fringe views, and comparing them to gyrating clowns.
Tens and tens of thousands of Albertans cheered Kenney on as he travelled Alberta in his blue pickup truck, then handed him astonishing 63 seats in the 2019 election.
These would be many of the same people Kenney refused to meet with twice — first at the February two-week blockade at the Sweetgrass-Coutts border held in protest of COVID-19 mandates. Then again when he ducked out the back door of the Nobleford Community Hall in the small Southern Alberta town.
He attacked the people who had cheered him on — about 4,000 participants who attended the May 2021 End the Lockdown Rodeo in Bowden.
“If they are our base, I want a new base,” said Kenney.
People urges Kenney to change course, find a way to give the grassroots who abandoned him a reason to return.
Kenney’s response in April?
“If I’ve made a mistake in the past three years, perhaps it’s I’ve been far too tolerant of public expressions of opposition.”
Word is Kenney has his victory party planned, but not all MLAs are invited.
So much for the theme — Keep Alberta United — during his virtual speech at the SGM.
The UCP will livestream the results audited by Deloitte Canada.
JK is mean, JK is a bully, JK is a
Poor leader. JK must resign unless he gets 70% support. What a joke. All these weak articles are hard to read. These articles that are all emotion and no facts are useless. I have no reason to support JK except based on results. And the UCP results are excellent. Yes the Virus event was frustrating. But there was no decisions the UCP Covid committee could have made that would made everyone happy. Any logical minded person understands this. But Danielle Smith said she could have
Done better…. Ya right. And the people who think 50% plus one is not democracy are all NDP operatives. If Brian Jean was to be the leader with 51% they would say that’s ok. But, JK he needs 70% or better or he is not the real leader. The Foreign funded activists who own the NDP and hate the UCP clearly own the writer of this article too. I hated JK at times during all the restriction, but Covid is over. Now let’s keep improving our province. And let’s all stay united and fight the WEF and the Liberals.
Kenney has been bullying people (mostly his own party, not Trudeau) and cheating since 2017, why would he change now? Danielle Smith would make a much stronger leader than Kenney going into the next election.
Kenney is a statist whose job is to keep Alberta in Canada. He's failing at that job, thank God.
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