Kenney leadership in the crosshairs as UCP AGM date set for April review


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Alberta’s United Conservative Party will hold a leadership review of Premier Jason Kenney at a newly-scheduled meeting April 8 and 9.

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The party’s annual general meeting was originally expected next fall, but as party dissatisfaction with Kenney boils over into public dissent, including from MLAs, it’s been rescheduled.

Last week, Kenney survived a caucus meeting after a symbolic non-confidence vote was withdrawn, and instead the UCP announced they were working to schedule an earlier leadership review.

On Thursday, party spokesman Dave Prisco confirmed the leadership review will happen at the 2022 UCP AGM at the River Cree Resort in Edmonton.

The review could spark a leadership race just over a year before Alberta will hold a provincial election in Spring, 2023.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenney has faced down caucus members decrying government health restrictions and those who have said measures were too little too late. On Tuesday, deputy speaker of the legislature Angela Pitt said she and her constituents have no confidence in Kenney’s leadership, and former cabinet minister Leela Aheer said Kenney should have stepped down last week.

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Also on Tuesday, a UCP vice-president of policy who publicly called for Kenney’s resignation and pushed for an early leadership review was removed from the party’s board of directors.

While Alberta faces a health-care crisis amid soaring COVID-19 hospitalization numbers, Kenney said last week he was focused on the pandemic and not internal party politics, calling an immediate leadership review “grossly irresponsible.”

However, some party members are pushing for the review to happen even earlier. If 22 ridings pass a resolution – now circulating among constituency associations – Kenney could face a leadership review before March 1.

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley has accused Kenney’s UCP government of making politically-motivated public health decisions and being distracted by party “infighting, backstabbing and high school drama” when it should be focused on protecting the health care system.

The UCP’s 2021 general meeting is scheduled to be in person from Nov. 19 to 21 in Calgary at the Grey Eagle Resort, after last year’s was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.