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Friday, October 22, 2021

UCP leadership review coming this spring following five-hour-long caucus meeting

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The United Conservative Party says it will be moving up its annual general meeting in 2022 from the fall to the spring, and it’s Jason Kenney’s idea to do so.

“The premier spoke with the president of the party (on Wednesday) and requested that the 2022 UCP AGM take place in the spring,” said Dave Prisco, UCP director of communications.

“The party is working to confirm a date and venue to make it a reality.”

The meeting is also expected to be when Kenney’s leadership of the party will be reviewed.

Following a five-hour-long caucus meeting on Wednesday, a no-confidence vote was not held by elected members.

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao says the meeting was productive.

“It was a lot more civil than I thought and professional,” he told CTV News. “I’m glad that we all understand each other.”

Some reports have indicated divisions between party members, including board executives, primarily having to do with Kenney’s handling of the pandemic.

UCP backbencher Searle Turton told The Canadian Press that the caucus meeting was wide-ranging, but there was no vote of confidence on Kenney’s leadership.

He says the focus of the debate was about the pandemic.

Some of Kenney’s caucus members have criticized his health measures as being too little too late, while others say he has gone too far and violated individual rights by imposing a form of voluntary vaccine passports.

The party’s vice-president of policy has already called for the premier to resign and says enough constituency associations have signed on to force an early party review and vote on Kenney’s leadership.

“We rarely see this happening with a political party because the idea of course is to present a united front to the public, even if you have internal differences,” said University of Alberta political scientist John Church.

“One of the things that may happen if the party itself does not take any action as we may see some of the more right wing MLA split off.”

Former premier Rachel Notley’s director of communications and campaign strategist Leah Ward says Kenney’s job is safe for now.

“Jason Kenney likely isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon,” she said.

“Being removed as premier would require either a vote of non confidence in the legislature or a leadership review.”

The UCP still plan on holding this year’s AGM at the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino in November.

Kenney said Tuesday he would welcome a leadership review.

“When you’re in an elected office, in one sense your job is always conditional,” he said.

“I’m happy to be held accountable to the members of my party.”

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