UCP constituency association demands review of Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership

Click to play video: 'Calls for Jason Kenney to be removed as leader of UCP'
Calls for Jason Kenney to be removed as leader of UCP
The calls are growing louder for Premier Jason Kenney to be removed as leader of the United Conservative Party, and they aren't just coming from his political opponents. As Tom Vernon reports, some constituency associations are pressing for a leadership review – Sep 17, 2021

After more than a year of frustration with Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership, the United Conservative Party constituency board in Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills has voted 27 to 1 in favour of launching a leadership review.

“We just feel like there is a disconnect from voters and grassroots, we feel that there is actually a disconnect within caucus and cabinet,” Rob Smith, the president of the constituency association, told Global News.

The motion seeks to hold the review no later than March 1, 2022, but Smith said ideally it would be held as soon as the UCP’s annual general meeting, which is scheduled to be held in November. The UCP constitution says a review would be triggered if 22 constituency associations across the province request one, and Smith said he knows other boards are discussing similar motions.

Click to play video: 'Calls grow for Kenney to resign over Alberta’s COVID-19 crisis'
Calls grow for Kenney to resign over Alberta’s COVID-19 crisis

“Hopefully this time we’ll hit the 22 that is required.”

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The board first considered the motion last winter, driven by a number of concerns with the premier’s leadership, ranging from what Smith called a lack of consultation on the curriculum redesign, to the handling of the relationship between the government and Alberta’s doctors and nurses.

READ MORE: New proposal eliminates some wage rollbacks for Alberta nurses as negotiations continue

Seeking cost savings, the UCP government unilaterally cancelled the master agreement with doctors just as the pandemic was hitting the province. The government has also been seeking wage cuts for nurses. Its most recent offer removed a request for a three per cent across the board wage rollback as the two sides head to mediation, but nurses could be in a position to hold a strike vote in a matter of weeks.

The conversation resumed in July, a month after pictures surfaced of Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Finance Minister Travis Toews and Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon enjoying a meal together on the SkyPalace rooftop patio while pandemic restrictions were still in place.

READ MORE: ‘I regret that’: Kenney apologizes for Sky Palace dinner that broke COVID-19 rules

“A level of entitlement that my constituency association could not stand,” Smith said.

“Some of our board members, who were not as critical of Premier Kenney up to that point, absolutely felt as if that was the final straw.”

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The UCP did not respond to a request for comment, while the premier’s office said Kenney is not concerned with partisan politics right now as he is focused on leading Alberta through the critical situation being driven by the fourth wave of COVID-19.

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