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'Complete lawlessness': UCP board denies push for early Kenney leadership review

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney gives a thumbs up after his speech at the United Conservative Party annual meeting in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal Alberta Premier Jason Kenney gives a thumbs up after his speech at the United Conservative Party annual meeting in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

Premier Jason Kenney's party leadership will be voted on in April, despite an effort from some members to fire him before then.

A group of 22 United Conservative Party constituency associations – roughly 25 per cent – passed resolutions calling for an expedited leadership review before March 1.

But the party's president, Cynthia Moore, sent a letter Wednesday to members saying the vote will happen April 9 in Red Deer.

The review was originally supposed to happen in the fall of 2022 at the party's annual general meeting in Edmonton.

"Your provincial board of directors has listened to grassroots feedback and charted a new path forward for next year’s leadership review," Moore wrote to party members.

She did not explain why the calls for an earlier vote were denied, but a party spokesperson argued the board has the right to make that call.

"Our bylaws were written and passed by members. Those bylaws say that 22 (constituency associations) can call for the board to schedule a Special General Meeting. That is the only power that the members gave to CAs. It is up to the board to decide the other details," Dave Prisco, UCP director of communications, told CTV News Edmonton.


"The UCP's bylaws and party constitution are not worth the paper they are written on," former UCP MLA Todd Loewen wrote of the decision on Wednesday.

"They have entered the land of complete lawlessness. I'm sorry, but the party may be irreparably broken. Does the rot run too deep?"

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

Several other high-profile Alberta conservatives, including Brian Jean and Leela Aheer, have also demanded that the premier quit.

“We have a caucus I think that is frustrated, and constituents that are frustrated, and of course membership,” UCP MLA Peter Guthrie said in November.

Guthrie wrote a letter arguing the party's grassroots members were being ignored, and he read it out loud in a meeting that included Kenney. Guthrie is still in the UCP caucus, as is Aheer.

“Public opinion continues to wane and we may be at a point where this party cannot be salvaged,” the letter read.

But Moore painted a different picture in her Wednesday letter to members.

"It is my hope that in the coming months we can focus on the amazing work our team at the legislature is doing to implement our campaign platform, create jobs, build pipelines, and get our economy going again," she wrote.


The board's decision is not sitting well with member Joel Mullan and he's certain he is not alone.

"It's made an angry group, even angrier," Mullan said in an interview Thursday.

Mullan was fired as the party's vice president of policy in September after he called for a leadership review.

He was initially a supporter of Kenney, but said that changed when his government brought in a vaccine passport.

Mullan said the board denying a grassroots request for a remote vote, independent auditor and the earlier vote date was allowed under the bylaws, but an insult to members.

"It certainly lets the CAs know where they stand, in ignoring everything that these 22 wanted to see. It, to me, shows a complete disdain for that group of CAs and what they were asking for," he said.

Still, Mullan will stay in the UCP and continue fighting for a new leader.

Prisco said the April vote will be done in person and people must purchase their membership 21 days in advance to cast a ballot.

At one point, the party planned to move its annual general meeting up to April to accommodate leadership review demands.

Now the April gathering will be a special general meeting that will focus on the leadership question only.

The UCP will hold its 2022 annual general meeting in Edmonton in the fall, Moore said.

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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