Former PC and Wildrose MLAs issue open letter supporting Kenney’s leadership

Ahead of Saturday’s United Conservative Party leadership review, 19 former Progressive Conservative and Wildrose MLAs signed their names to an open letter in support of Premier Jason Kenney.

Iris Evans, Dave Quest, Luke Ouellette and Alana DeLong were among the former long-time MLAs to put their name to the letter. (See the full letter at the bottom of this story.)

“If less than 50 per cent plus one of delegates vote yes, the governing party will be immediately plunged into a leadership race roughly one year before a general election in which it will face off against a disciplined, organized and well-funded opposition,” the letter reads.

“Party members, even those unhappy with Premier Kenney, should think long and hard about what that will look like.”

Read more: Dozens of UCP Constituency Association presidents urge party to keep Kenney’s leadership vote in Red Deer

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The letter cautions members that a leadership campaign will take at least four months and will not happen before the summer. In the fall, the federal Conservative party will be electing a new leader, pushing the UCP vote to another month.

The signatories warn members by the time a new leader is chosen — and the premier has time to revamp cabinet, shuffle senior beureaucrats, hire political staff, craft an agenda, and work on a budget and throne speech that will double as an election platform — 10 months will have gone by.

“We will have forfeited 10 months of economic progress and election planning while the NDP nominates their candidates, builds their platforms and connects with voters, while credibly telling Albertans that — once again — conservatives are too busy fighting with each other to fight for them,” they said.

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“We have been down this road and we don’t want to go down it again.”

Read more: UCP switching leadership meeting online ‘like a yo-yo’ for Red Deer businesses

In a statement to 630 CHED, NDP deputy leader Sarah Hoffman said the letter makes it clear the UCP is “fixated on clinging to power.”

“The UCP is obsessing over internal party dramas, infighting, and election calendars,” Hoffman said. “Rachel Notley and Alberta’s NDP is focused on rebuilding public health care and providing real relief from the soaring monthly costs the UCP has imposed on Albertans, including utilities, car insurance and their billion-dollar income tax grab.”

Hoffman added the letter shows Albertans can’t trust the UCP.

But it’s not just the lost time that has the 19 former MLAs throwing their support behind Kenney, saying the premier has kept almost 90 per cent of promises made in the UCP platform, has made good on a promise to create jobs and appealing the NDP’s carbon tax, all while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every government made mistakes throughout the pandemic but, more than any other premier, Premier Kenney balanced protecting hospital capacity with preserving our rights and freedoms.”

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The leadership review is scheduled for Saturday and will be taking place online, after more than 13,000 people purchased UCP memberships. In a controversial move, the vote was changed to an online ballot in an effort to allow as many members across the province to vote as possible.

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As of March 25, more than 15,000 memberships were purchased.

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