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'Actually laughable': Loewen not buying Kenney's denial on UCP AGM controversy


As United Conservative Party members head to their annual general meeting this weekend, a former UCP MLA says he's not buying the premier's insistence that he's not involved in some controversial tactics being used.

Three MLAs – one with the UCP, one with the NDP and one independent – have all raised concerns over third-party (PAC) money being used to pay registration fees for delegates that are apparently pro-Jason Kenney.

The premier has said he's "not involved," but he believes what's happening is not illegal.

"This obviously reeks of desperation, the premier is obviously willing to do anything to cling to power," now-independant MLA Todd Lowen said in an interview with CTV News Edmonton on Thursday.

"For the premier to suggest he's unaware of anything that goes on in the UCP, or within government, is actually laughable. There isn't anything that he doesn't have his fingers in or on."

Loewen was kicked out of the UCP after he publicly demanded that Kenney resign.

He and NDP MLA Thomas Dang have called for an investigation, after UCP MLA Peter Guthrie told journalists about what he called a "scheme" involving PACs and Kenney's office.

Loewen said that the office of Chief Electoral Officer Glen Resler confirmed his complaint had been received and he believed it was being investigated.

Resler's office refused to make any statement when CTV News Edmonton asked for comment on Wednesday.


On Friday morning, Resler's office released an "interpretation bulletin" on Elections Alberta's website in an apparent effort to calm the controversy.

The bulletin said there's no law preventing third parties from paying registration fees for members, as long as those people are not also on the party executive or organizing the event.

As for Kenney's denial, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary wasn't buying that either.

"I can't think of another convention where all of this is circulating," Duane Bratt said.

"It shows that Kenney is trying to stage-manage this AGM."

The meetings start Friday in Calgary and are expected to include a vote on when to hold the party's next leadership review and how many constituency associations are needed to force a review.

Kenney has agreed to a leadership vote in April, but some are trying to remove the premier sooner than that, including several high-profile members who have called for Kenney's resignation.

The premier's approval rating has fallen as low as 22 per cent amid pandemic controversy, a failed pipeline investment and several UCP scandals.


The premier has said he is focused on governing and not losing sleep over internal battles.

"I'm not involved in third-party organizations, but third-party political organizations are free within the law to be involved in politics," Kenney said when asked about Guthrie's allegations on Wednesday.

"My understanding is that, for example, delegate registration fees are not considered a contribution. But I would expect and insist that any group carefully acts within the regulations."

Bratt said Kenney is known for flexing "organizational force and financial muscle" at party meetings and said other conservative premiers have done similar things in the past to hold onto power.

Still, he said the premier is clearly in trouble, as is the obviously divided United Conservatives who have trailed in the polls to the NDP for months.

"There are no good scenarios coming out of this weekend. Just different levels of bad," Bratt said with a chuckle.

UCP AGM registration fees ranged from $149 for youth to $999 for observers.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Touria Izri Top Stories

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