The United Conservative Party is calling the resignation of several board members in southern Alberta a non-issue.

Six constituency board members from the riding of Livingstone-Macleod have resigned, including party board president Maureen Moncrieff.

When asked on Saturday about the walkout, the UCP’s house leader, Jason Nixon, said he can only guess their action symbolized their dissatisfaction with the party’s nomination process.

“Some people become frustrated when their candidate loses, and the best I can tell, that’s what’s taking place down there,” Nixon said.

“I’m sorry to hear that people are frustrated and don’t want to continue with the process.”

Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams believes part of the internal conflict has to do with a widening gap between the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose sides of the UCP.

The two parties merged in 2017.

“It does look like some of the folks that were supportive of Brian Jean and the more Wildrose agenda are not on board,” Williams said.

“Are the Wildrosers and the PCs going to be able to stand together? This is the challenge.”

However, a second former board member told CTV News there is more to the resignations, including dissatisfaction with the 2017 leadership race—a contest currently being investigated by Alberta’s election commissioner.

Last week, a Calgary candidate was removed from the party because he wasn’t forthcoming about his campaign donations.

“There is no controversy surrounding the leadership race,” he said.

“We have open, fair democratic nominations, and there’s nothing more grassroots than that.”

This week’s resignations aren’t the first the UCP has seen this year. Another board member, Ian Donovan, and a Drumheller MLA, Rick Strankman, quit in January.

“By itself, (it) probably wouldn’t cause a lot of concern,” Williams said, “but now that we’re talking about increasing numbers saying the exact same thing—that they don’t like the leadership style, they don’t like the top down leadership style, they don’t like the broken promises, they don’t think they can trust this leader—if that starts to gather momentum, then it could have a significant impact on the upcoming election.”

In the meantime, Nixon said his party is focusing on the campaign and election ahead: “While some members of the media may be interested in it, the general public is focused on key issues.”

With files from Timm Bruch