Alberta premier removes MLA Pat Rehn from caucus after international travel, absenteeism
EDMONTON -- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has removed United Conservative MLA Pat Rehn from the party's caucus effective immediately.
The move comes after the Lesser Slave Lake MLA was shown to have spent Christmas abroad in Mexico, despite government health advice to avoid non-essential international travel.
Rehn also came under fire from constituents for absenteeism, leading Slave Lake town council to call for his resignation, citing multiple missed meeting and accusing Rehn of spending more time managing a business in Texas than in his home constituency.
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In a statement posted to Twitter, Premier Kenney said Rehn "has made no meaningful effort to work in his constituency."
"I have repeatedly asked Mr. Rehn to be more present in his constituency. He has ignored calls from me, UCP caucus leadership, and his constituents to do so," his statement reads.
"Regrettably, MLA Rehn's performance falls well below the high standards we expect in our caucus and party."
Kenney notes Rehn will not be permitted to run for future UCP nomination.
"The most important job of a member of the legislative assembly is to represent his or her constituents."
Rehn's expenses indicate he spent extensive time in Edmonton and away from his constituency.
Calls to Rehn's consituency office were not returned.
'A LACK OF REPRESENTATION AND LEADERSHIP'
The premier said he will be meeting with Lesser Slave Lake constituents in the coming weeks.
Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman says he's optimistic after Thursday's morning announcement.
"They understand our concerns, they understand our frustrations and understand that we have had a lack of representation and leadership," said Warman.
"All we ever wanted and ever asked for was at least to be heard and recognized and get some answers.”
Warman says he and council have yet to hear from Rehn.
"When you have someone saying they are here to fight for this region but don’t even acknowledge that or reach out, I think that says a lot about the character of the person."
The premier has promised to introduce recall legislation in the spring thought it's unclear if the law would take effect before the next election.
Political experts say Rehn's removal doesn't come as a surprise, noting he is the only one of the six government MLAs known to have travelled outside of Canada over the holidays to be disciplined.
"He's had a very difficult last couple of weeks," said Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary. "Rehn just continued to embarrass the government on a daily basis."
"His job was simply to vote on UCP matters and spend the rest of his time on private business."
The Opposition New Democrats are calling on Rehn to resign.
"Lesser Slave Lake can't afford to wait two more years to have a MLA that will work for them," said Rachel Notley, Opposition leader.
"He was widely understood to be completely absent from his constituency."
Rehn was elected as MLA in 2019." He will now sit as an independent MLA.