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Jason Kenney quits Alberta politics with critical letter on state of democracy

Click to play video: 'Jason Kenney quits Alberta politics with critical letter on state of democracy'
Jason Kenney quits Alberta politics with critical letter on state of democracy
Former Alberta premier Jason Kenney stepped down as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Calgary-Lougheed late Tuesday afternoon – Nov 29, 2022

Former Alberta premier Jason Kenney stepped down as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Calgary-Lougheed late Tuesday afternoon.

“Thank you to my constituents for the honour of representing them in Parliament and the Legislature over the past 25 years,” Kenney said in a tweet also containing a statement.

The resignation came two hours after the throne speech for the Fall session was read inside the legislature, which Kenney was not present for.

Click to play video: 'Jason Kenney announces intention to step down as UCP leader'
Jason Kenney announces intention to step down as UCP leader

Kenney said he is proud of the work done while he was leader but with a new government in place under Premier Danielle Smith — who replaced him as leader of the UCP in October — and a provincial election coming in May 2023, now is the best time for him to step aside as MLA.

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“This decision brings to an end over 25 years of elected service to Albertans and Canadians,” he said.

“I would like to thank especially the people of south Calgary for their support over nine elections to Parliament and the legislature, beginning in 1997. Thank you as well to the countless volunteers, staff members and public servants who have supported me throughout the past two and a half decades of public service.”

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Kenney said in the future he hopes to continue contributing to democratic life but chose to close his resignation letter with a scathing reflection of the state of politics.

“Whatever our flaws or imperfections, Canada and I believe Alberta are in many ways the envy of the world. This is not an accident of history.”

Kenney went on to provide the following statement:

“We are the inheritors of great institutions built around abiding principles which were generated by a particular historical context. Our Westminster parliamentary democracy, part of our constitutional monarchy, is the guardian of a unique tradition of ordered liberty and the rule of law, all of which is centred on a belief in the inviolable dignity of the human person and an obligation to promote the common good. How these principles are applied to any particular issue as a matter for prudent judgment.

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“But I am concerned that our democratic life is veering away from ordinary prudential debate towards a polarization that undermines our bedrock institution and principles.

“From the far left we see efforts to cancel our history, delegitimize our historically grounded institutions and customs and divide society dangerously along identity lines. And from the far right we see a vengeful anger and toxic cynicism which often seeks to tear things down, rather than build up and improve our imperfect institutions.”

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“As I close 25 years of public service, I do so with gratitude for those who built this magnificent land of opportunity through their wisdom and sacrifice. And I’m hopeful that we will move past this time of polarization to renew our common life together in this amazing land of limitless opportunity.”

Kenney announced his intention to step down as the leader of the United Conservative Party on May after he received 51.4 per cent support in his leadership review vote.

Earlier Tuesday, Smith was sworn in as the new member for Brooks-Medicine Hat after winning a byelection for the seat earlier this month.

It was her first time back on the floor the legislature chamber since the spring of 2015.

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At that time, Smith was with the Progressive Conservatives, having led a mass floor crossing of her Wildrose Party months earlier. She failed to win a nomination for the PCs in 2015 and returned to journalism as a radio talk-show host for six years.

Kenney remained a backbencher UCP legislature member until his resignation. It’s not yet known when a byelection will be held in Calgary-Lougheed.

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Kenney joins a long list of Alberta conservative leaders sidelined following middling votes in leadership reviews.

Former Progressive Conservative premier Ralph Klein left after getting 55 per cent of the vote in 2006. Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford received 77 per cent in their reviews but stepped down from the top job when the party pushed back.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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