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Politicians react to Jason Kenney’s intention to resign as UCP leader: ‘This job is never easy’

Click to play video: 'UCP caucus meeting to discuss future after Jason Kenney announces plan to step down' UCP caucus meeting to discuss future after Jason Kenney announces plan to step down
United Conservative Party caucus members met in Calgary Thursday to discuss the future after Premier Jason Kenney announced his intentions to step down – May 19, 2022

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney shocked many Wednesday evening when he announced his intention to step down as the leader of the United Conservative Party.

The decision came after Kenney received 51.4 per cent support in his leadership review vote. While it was enough by party rules to remain at the helm, Kenney said that was not adequate support to continue on as party leader.

“The result is not what I hoped for or frankly what I expected,” Kenney said Wednesday at the Spruce Meadows equestrian centre before a crowd that included several cabinet ministers.

“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.”

Read more: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney intends to step down as UCP leader after narrow leadership win

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Political reaction to the move came in swift, from the prime minister, federal party leaders, as well as fellow and past premiers.

Click to play video: 'Kenney supporters shocked by his decision to resign as UCP leader' Kenney supporters shocked by his decision to resign as UCP leader
Kenney supporters shocked by his decision to resign as UCP leader – May 18, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked Kenney for his contributions.

“Through the challenges of the past two years and decades of public service, you’ve been a voice for Alberta and Albertans, and I wish you all the best in the years ahead,” he said on Twitter.

“Obviously I want to recognize that Jason Kenney served his community, served his provinces, his country for many, many years. I wish him the very best in whatever next steps he takes on,” Trudeau added Thursday morning in Ottawa.

Click to play video: 'Political scientist weighs in on Kenney’s decision to resign following UCP leadership review' Political scientist weighs in on Kenney’s decision to resign following UCP leadership review
Political scientist weighs in on Kenney’s decision to resign following UCP leadership review – May 18, 2022

Interim federal Conservative Leader Candice Bergen thanked her friend for his many years of service to both Canada and Alberta.

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“Whether at the federal level as a Minister of the Crown or as the Premier of Alberta, you have inspired and engaged so many.”

Read more: UCP begins search for new leader with Jason Kenney stepping down

“Thank you to my friend Premier Jason Kenney for everything you have done to unite Alberta conservative voters into a new party, defeat a destructive NDP government and lead Alberta through a very challenging time,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan wished Kenney all the best.

“This job is never easy and I want to thank him for his public service to Albertans and Canadians.”

“Jason Kenney, my friend, the people of this province owe you a debt of gratitude,” said former federal Conservative leader Rona Ambrose. “You took a province economically ravaged by the NDP and turned it into a thriving place to live and work again. Because of you less kids will leave our home for jobs somewhere else. I’m so proud of you.”

Click to play video: 'Jason Kenney announces intention to step down as UCP leader' Jason Kenney announces intention to step down as UCP leader
Jason Kenney announces intention to step down as UCP leader – May 18, 2022

Tim Uppal, Conservative MP for Edmonton Mill Woods, said no one works harder than Kenney.

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“Thank you for your unwavering commitment and service to Alberta and Canada.”

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark said she was sad to see Kenney step down and thanked him for his work.

“Under his leadership, Alberta found a way through dark times and is now better positioned to thrive than any other province,” she said. “You always tried to do the right thing not just the popular one. Canada is a better country because of it.”

Read more: Jason Kenney led Alberta through COVID-19 pandemic, oil crash

Liberal MP for Edmonton Centre and Minister of Tourism Randy Boissonnault admitted he and Kenney have not always agreed, but thanked him for his service.

“There has never been any doubt of his commitment to Albertans,” he said Thursday. “Right from the beginning when I became minister for Alberta, we sat down and agreed that we would work hard to find common ground and I think if you look at some of our record over the past months, we did just that.”

Boissonnault went on to say he is sensing a “disturbing trend” in Conservative politics across the country.

“The Conservative movement in this country is heading to a dark place and I find that very troubling and at a time when, we are in Alberta, trying to recover from a downturn in oil, now it’s getting better, but we have real issues in Alberta and we need real leadership and so I really do think that it’s time for the moderates in Conservative movements in this country to step up and ask themselves where is this train going,” he said.

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“If we can’t have one of the major parties in this country being able to hold the centre, what does it say about where that party is heading? And disinformation and misinformation is part of that and we have leaders in this country that know they shouldn’t be sharing disinformation and yet they press retweet anyway and that’s not right.”

Click to play video: 'Edmonton MP says Kenney’s resignation shows ‘disturbing trend’ of rise in extreme conservatism' Edmonton MP says Kenney’s resignation shows ‘disturbing trend’ of rise in extreme conservatism
Edmonton MP says Kenney’s resignation shows ‘disturbing trend’ of rise in extreme conservatism – May 19, 2022

Kenney’s press secretary, Justin Brattinga, said Kenney is to remain as party leader until an interim leader is chosen. A caucus meeting is to be held Thursday.

Kenney said he’s asked the party to expedite a leadership vote.

Click to play video: 'Reaction to UCP leadership vote results' Reaction to UCP leadership vote results
Reaction to UCP leadership vote results – May 19, 2022

— with files from The Canadian Press

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