MLA Pat Rehn has been welcomed back into the United Conservative Caucus after being removed earlier this year.
In January, Premier Jason Kenney removed the Lesser Slave Lake MLA from his caucus after he said it became clear that Rehn failed to represent his constituents.
“He has made no meaningful effort to work in his constituency, or properly to represent his hard-working constituents,” Kenney said at the time.
“I have repeatedly asked Mr. Rehn to be more present in his constituency. He has ignored calls from me, UCP caucus leadership and his constituents to do so.”
The move came after a few local leaders, including Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman, spoke out against Rehn.
In a news release Wednesday afternoon, the United Conservative caucus chair said since his removal, Rehn has worked tirelessly to rebuild trust with local families, businesses, elected officials and Indigenous leaders.
The United Conservative Caucus said it has also received letters of support requesting that Rehn be allowed to rejoin caucus. Caucus voted Wednesday to welcome back Rehn.
“Pat has been doing an incredible amount of work to rebuild trust and get things done in his constituency,” Nathan Neudorf said.
“He has learned to apply the skills that made him so successful in business to his job as MLA, and he has reminded all of us why he was elected in the first place. As our government shifts focus to the economic recovery, Pat will be a strong asset, not only for his riding but for our entire United Conservative Caucus team.”
Rehn said the last six months have been eye opening.
“It was clear that I was not living up to expectations in representing Lesser Slave Lake, and for that I am sorry. I am humbled that people are willing to give me a second chance, and I will not let them down,” Rehn said in a news release.
“I am a conservative and I joined politics to the put the NDP’s devastating experiments out to pasture and to restore the Alberta Advantage for all. I thank my government colleagues and look forward to the days ahead.”
Slave Lake and High Prairie are the main urban centres in the sprawling rural constituency of Lesser Slave Lake in northern Alberta. Both had criticized Rehn before his removal from caucus in January.
In a letter penned to the MLA, Slave Lake council asked for Rehn to resign, accusing him of not meeting with constituents, focusing more on his business interests, not showing up for meetings and being ill-prepared when he did show up.
Prior to being removed from caucus, Rehn lost his legislature committee responsibilities after he participated in non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rehn was one of several MLAs and government staff who travelled over the Christmas period.
The Opposition said Wednesday that allowing Rehn back into the UCP caucus shows the premier’s “inability to lead.”
“Pat Rehn was caught vacationing in Mexico while Albertans made great personal sacrifices,” Alberta NDP Deputy Leader Sarah Hoffman said in a statement.
“He billed taxpayers for months’ worth of expenses for extended stays in Edmonton. He skipped meetings and failed to show up to serve the Albertans he was elected to represent for months, to the point where mayors, reeves, councillors and Indigenous leaders called for him to resign.
“After removing Rehn from the UCP caucus and swearing to never let him run for another nomination, Rehn is welcomed back because he’s more loyal to Jason Kenney than the people of Lesser Slave Lake,” Hoffman said.
Global News has reached out to Warman and the premier’s office for comment on this story.