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UCP candidate Brian Jean wins Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche byelection

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Brian Jean wins Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche byelection for the UCP
WATCH ABOVE: UCP candidate Brian Jean won the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche byelection on Tuesday night and reiterated his call for Premier Jason Kenney to step down as the party's leader. As Tom Vernon reports, Jean believes the UCP needs a new leader to win Alberta's next provincial election – Mar 16, 2022

United Conservative Party candidate Brian Jean earned a decisive victory in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche byelection on Tuesday night.

At about 11:10 p.m., Elections Alberta’s website showed 61 of 61 polls were reporting and Jean had more than 63 per cent of the votes at that point. Elections Alberta noted the results remained unofficial at that point.

“I have a clear mandate from the people,” Jean told his supporters late Tuesday night. “I am excited to be your new MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche.”

READ MORE: Albertans vote in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche byelection

Jean, who has been out of politics since 2018, lost the 2017 UCP leadership race to Jason Kenney — who would go on to become Alberta’s premier — and has called for Kenney to step down as the party’s leader and said the UCP needs to go through a renewal of sorts to have a chance at reversing poor polling numbers and preventing the NDP from winning the next election.

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Jean is a former Conservative MP who also used to be the leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party. With Jean at the helm of that party, it merged with the Progressive Conservative Party to form what is now the UCP.

Kenney will face a leadership review on April 9.

“Jason (Kenney), I hope you see what’s coming and I hope you do the right thing,” Jean said late Tuesday night after his win was clear.

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“I know in your heart of hearts you know what the right thing to do is and you know that the UCP cannot win (the provincial election) in one year unless you’re gone.”

READ MORE: Brian Jean’s ‘Great Reset,’ ‘globalist’ tweet an appeal to the far right: expert

According to unofficial results, Jean and his 3,714 votes were being most closely trailed by NDP candidate Ariana Mancini (1,081 votes) and Wildrose Independence Party candidate Paul Hinman (628 votes) as of 11:10 p.m.

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There were eight candidates trying to win the legislature seat which has been vacant since former UCP MLA Laila Goodridge resigned to run for the federal Conservatives in August.

The Alberta NDP issued a statement in which Mancini offered her congratulations to Jean and indicated she hopes he will serve his constituents well.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team,” she said of her campaign. “My heartfelt thanks goes out to them.”

Mancini said over the course of the campaign, she heard concerns from area residents about the cost of living and surging utility bills.

“I ran because so many of us get forgotten,” she told Global News.

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley tweeted Tuesday night that she was proud of Mancini’s campaign and offered her congratulations to Jean.

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“Congratulations to Brian Jean and to all others candidates on a hard-fought campaign,” she posted.

At 11 p.m., Kenney tweeted about the victory.

“Congratulations to Brian Jean and the UCP team on winning the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche byelection,” he posted.

“Thank you to all of the candidates and their volunteers for their commitment to democracy, and to local voters for participating in the electoral process.”

Political commentator reacts to Jean victory

Lori Williams, an associate professor of policy studies at Calgary’s Mount Royal University, told Global News that not only does Jean’s victory pose a potential problem for the premier, but also the margin of votes that he won with.

“It didn’t matter who won tonight, there wasn’t a win in it for Jason Kenney,” she said. “But the worst of the outcomes was a Brian Jean victory… particularly a Brian Jean victory that was this decisive.

“(This) certainly gives Brian Jean a springboard to launch into a full-throated challenge, to build on what he and the Take Back Alberta folks have already been organizing — to try to get as many people out to that April 9 vote to agree with Brian Jean that Jason Kenney ought to be removed from the leadership.”

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READ MORE: Kenney leadership to come under microscope in April as UCP sets confidence vote

Williams noted that from the very beginning, Jean’s campaign centred around having Kenney removed as the UCP’s leader.

“Brian Jean clearly wants to be the one who replaces him but has also said he’s OK with someone else taking the helm,” she said. “He just wants Jason Kenney out and he speaks for a number of Albertans.”

–With a file from The Canadian Press

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