Calgary Herald

KENNEY FACES CALL TO QUIT

About 90 UCP riding officials signed letter demanding premier resign, sources say

- DON BRAID

An explosive letter demanding Premier Jason Kenney's immediate resignatio­n is circulatin­g among UCP riding boards.

It has so far gained about 90 signatures of board members and presidents from a variety of ridings, party sources say.

“We, the undersigne­d members of the United Conservati­ve Party, formally request your immediate resignatio­n as leader of the party and as Premier of Alberta,” says a copy of the letter obtained by Postmedia, without the signatures included.

Organizers say they hope to get many more signatures before the names and letter are released and sent to the premier.

“We signatorie­s sit, or have recently sat, on UCP boards across the province,” the letter continues.

“Mr. Kenney, for the sake of a strong and free Alberta and for the well-being of the conservati­ve movement in this province, we ask that you do the proper thing and resign . . .

“Furthermor­e, we do not believe you have the moral authority or trustworth­iness to lead this party into the next election or to continue to deliver on important conservati­ve priorities.”

Kenney's communicat­ions boss, Brock Harrison, says “the premier isn't going anywhere.”

“We saw this letter two weeks ago with no signatorie­s and no names attached.

“Since then, we've heard from far more people who want absolutely nothing to do with it versus the numbers you're speculatin­g will support it.”

At this point, it seems none of Kenney's MLAS have signed the letter.

Two weeks ago, 17 of them sent another letter critical of the government's handling of the pandemic.

It did not ask Kenney to resign. The premier said his caucus members were free to speak their minds, but the government had to continue with restrictio­ns to fight COVID-19.

Even before that episode, critics were pressing for a formal party leadership vote.

About nine ridings have now passed a motion asking for a such a review.

Twenty-two riding boards must sign on before a vote can be forced.

Under pressure, the party executive said there will be a leadership review in the fall of 2022, about six months before the next election.

That didn't satisfy many of the critics.

Increasing­ly impatient, they decided to demand an immediate resignatio­n.

Addressing Kenney directly, the letter continues: “It has become increasing­ly clear to us that you will not allow a proper review of your leadership in a timely manner.

“Party leadership has resorted to procedural tactics and strong-arming to prevent any sort of meaningful change in this party and grassroots control.

“Therefore, we realize the time for discussing your leadership has come to an end.”

The letter will be part of the conversati­on during an informal virtual meeting of riding presidents set for Thursday.

The anger is deeply tied to COVID-19 rules, their perceived breach of freedoms and the harm to business.

The letter alleges: “You have not upheld the core grassroots principles of the party, particular­ly by repeatedly violating our Statement of Principles in attacking free enterprise, personal responsibi­lity, freedom of worship, freedom of assembly and the free use of private property.”

“It has become difficult to defend a number of recent decisions and mistakes. We are concerned that your personal associatio­n with government policy, even in matters that do align with our principles, is a liability.

“Once you have lost trust, it can never return. Your personal unpopulari­ty will only result in defeat.”

There's some chance the discontent will fade if the pandemic eases and the province emerges into what Kenney calls “the best summer ever in Alberta history.”

Kenney has tight control over the party apparatus and he's not the type to quit. His pandemic measures still have significan­t caucus support despite the obvious divisions.

But his opposition is getting bolder and noisier as the restrictio­ns persist.

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 ??  ?? A letter demanding Premier Jason Kenney's resignatio­n is circulatin­g among UCP riding boards. Party sources say it has gained 90 signatures so far.
A letter demanding Premier Jason Kenney's resignatio­n is circulatin­g among UCP riding boards. Party sources say it has gained 90 signatures so far.

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