Board member quits UCP
Cites ‘dictatorship’-like control by Jason Kenney, backroom deals as part of decision
Former Conservative MLA and UCP board member Ian Donovan has resigned, citing backroom deals, the party’s “dictatorship”-like control by leader Jason Kenney and party brass, and questions swirling around multiple nominations.
A supporter of the United Conservative movement since its inception, Donovan wrote in an email to his colleagues on the Cardston-siksika UCP board he “cannot be part of a party that has lost its way.”
“It has become obvious to me that Mr. Kenney has decided that the party is more important than the people it was to represent. It’s sad that such a good idea has been hijacked by the party leaders and head office,” he wrote.
Donovan told Postmedia Sunday afternoon the ongoing dissipation of grassroots input in the UCP guided his decision to leave.
He said he first started scratching his head during the fall sitting when UCP MLAS refused to vote on the abortion bubble-zone bill.
“I worry when the party comes in and has ultimate control — or the leader has ultimate control — over everybody,” he said.
“It might be a contentious issue, but as an MLA you need to pick a side. To tell your MLAS, 'You’re leaving the house and not voting on this issue at all,' it reeks a little bit of dictatorship stuff to me.”
Donovan said he kept hoping what he sees as top-heavy control would change, but that hasn’t happened, he said.
He is particularly worried about the host of controversies around UCP candidate nominations for the 2019 election, including an official complaint to the election commissioner by Highwood MLA Wayne Anderson, questions around former UCP candidate Jeff Callaway being a “kamikaze” candidate for Kenney, and delays to the UCP candidate nomination in Red Deer South.
Even in his own constituency, he said, party members were restricted to four hours in which they could vote for a nomination candidate.
"(Party leadership) want to have very tight control of what their candidates are doing, which I can understand for the bozo eruptions and whatnot, but ... that also tells me — when people are sitting around a caucus table, are they going to be able to have a free vote in the legislature?”
Donovan was elected as Wildrose MLA for Little Bow in 2012 and crossed the floor to the Progressive Conservatives in 2014.
He said Sunday he left Wildrose because he was being told to vote on something — just like what he’s currently seeing in the UCP.
Donovan isn’t sure where he’ll find his next political home and is still searching.
“If I feel (something) is crooked and corrupt, if I’m sitting there watching it still happen, I’m just as bad as what’s going on because I’m not doing anything about it,” he said.
UCP spokesman Matt Solberg said “voters rendered their decision on Mr. Donovan during the floor-crossing and the 2015 election that followed. Albertans are ready to move beyond the past.”
“We reject the idea that United Conservative members in Cardston-siksika have been undermined, given that nearly 3,500 votes were cast by members of that riding in the candidate selection process,” he said in an email.
UCP board member Ian Donovan announced he resigned from the party.