A group of former PC and Wildrose MLAs signed a letter of endorsement for Premier Jason Kenney Wednesday, primarily because they believe dumping him now will help the NDP win the next election.
“Ask yourself what you’re willing to risk in a leadership race. For us, nine lost months, a divisive internal campaign, and the real threat of an NDP government aren’t worth it,” the letter said.
Kenney shared the letter online and said he was “honoured” to have the support.
He faces a leadership review which starts on Saturday. The results of the mail-in vote are expected on May 18.
The letter starts by outlining the disadvantage the United Conservative Party would be at if members voted to replace Kenney. It also applauded him for keeping election promises, creating jobs and bringing in some of the fewest COVID-19 restrictions of any premier.
A provincial election is scheduled for May 29, 2023 and the MLAs predicted that a new UCP leader would likely not be chosen until mid-October.
“Party members, even those unhappy with Premier Kenney, should think long and hard about what that looks like,” the MLAs wrote, pleading for unity.
“The last time conservatives embarked down this path we went through four leaders in 10 years, eroding Albertans confidence in our ability to stay united and put their interests ahead of our own.”
A SIGN THAT KENNEY IS ‘DESPERATE’: BRATT
An NDP MLA wrote on Twitter Wednesday that it’s already too late to change the public perception of Kenney and his government.
“While the UCP is focused on themselves and holding onto power, we’re focused on Albertans, Alberta healthcare, cost of living and jobs. Kenney does not prioritize Alberta and he never has,” said Lori Sigurdson from Edmonton-Riverview.
A political scientist pointed out that the people who signed the letter are “not the A-list” of local conservatives.
Political scientist Duane Bratt said what’s more interesting to him is how many involved with the UCP are not on the list.
“We haven’t had a lot of politicians actually come out and endorse Jason Kenney. It’s the silence that I find intriguing.,” said the Mount Royal professor.
“I don’t think it hurts. It may help in certain ridings and with certain groups. But it’s also a sign of how desperate the campaign is going. Why do you need this letter, if it’s a slam dunk?”
Bratt pointed out that Rachel Notley, Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford didn’t campaign like this when they each faced leadership reviews during their respective premierships.
The letter is signed by former cabinet ministers Shirley McClellan, Iris Evans and Pat Nelson. Evans, the most recent of those to serve as an MLA, left politics in 2012.
A ThinkHQ poll released Tuesday pegged Kenney’s approval rating at 30 per cent, with 61 per cent of current UCP members surveyed wanting him replaced.
The online survey of adult Albertans was done between March 29 and April 1 using a sample size of 1,135 people. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of this size is +/- 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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