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Kenney says convoy protesters will vote against him in leadership review, appoints campaign team

File photo. File photo.

Alberta's premier has formed a team tasked with saving his leadership in the governing party, as he attempts to overmatch the votes of people who he says are supporting protest convoys.

"There will be an effort, obviously by many of the folks involved in these protests who perhaps have never been involved in a party before, to show up at that special general meeting and to use it as a platform for their anger over COVID measures," Jason Kenney said Monday.

The premier called COVID-19 restrictions "damaging" as he removed Alberta's proof-of-vaccination program, but he said he does not support blocking the border in protest. On Monday, he asked blockaders near Coutts to go home.

"There are many ways to speak your minds peacefully and lawfully. But your continued violation of the rights of your fellow Albertans will not be tolerated," he tweeted.

Kenney faces a leadership review at a UCP special general meeting in Red Deer on April 9.

His Chief of Staff, Pam Livingston, has taken a leave of absence along with other staffers to form a "campaign" team for Kenney.

"There's obviously a very active campaign by some, including some associated with these protests, to undermine our party. I think it's very important that there be an equally organized effort to maintain stability and the progress that our government has made," Kenney said.

He added that the remaining staff in his office can handle the duties of running the province, but the opposition NDP disputed that.


"He's got his top political advisor focused exclusively on saving his job," MLA Sarah Hoffman said.

"Clearly, this is further evidence that in the middle of a global health crisis, in the middle of a national disaster at the Alberta-Montana border, the premier cares more about his own leadership and his own political future than he does about actually leading on behalf of the people of Alberta."

Hoffman said the premier should be focused on helping families through the pandemic, getting the economy moving and removing the blockades around Coutts.

"The premier would be in a much better position politically, and so would the UCP to be frank, if they actually cared more about the people of Alberta and doing right by them, instead of spending all of their energy fighting for their own political careers," Hoffman stated.

Kenney didn't name the opponents that he believes are organizing the effort to have him fail his leadership review, but some of his critics have been loud for months.

Former Wildrose leader Brian Jean has criticized Kenney for his COVID-19 policies and demanded that the premier step down.

Jean will run for the UCP in an upcoming byelection with the goal of unseating Kenney as premier, and he has offered some support to the convoy protests.

"Every large crowd has jerks and every protest attracts a few extremists but generally the protest in Ottawa has been very well behaved as huge gatherings of people with legitimate grievances go," Jean said on Facebook on Feb. 6.

MLA Todd Loewen, who was kicked out of the UCP by Kenney, travelled to Ottawa to take part in the protest there. He has also called for Kenney to resign.

MLA Drew Barnes was booted from the UCP at the same time as Loewen and has taken part in a convoy protest in southern Alberta.

Current UCP MLA Shane Getson has demanded that the premier remove COVID-19 restrictions, and last week he posted about party members removing a leader.

"Flood that party with like minded people. Call for a leadership review, and vote that leader out," Getson wrote in a Feb. 9 Facebook post, which did not specify the leader he wanted replaced.

Kenney, meanwhile, said he was proud of the "small but mighty" team that he assembled to fight for his leadership, and his job as premier.

"It's incumbent on mainstream Alberta conservatives to also show up in large numbers to send a message about the importance of stability and maintaining a big tent, mainstream coalition for the interest and the future of the province," Kenney said.

CTV News Edmonton reached out to Jean's camp Monday for further comment. Top Stories

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