Backbencher gives Kenney a blunt warning about ignoring the concerns of UCP members

A United Conservative supporter is issuing a blunt warning to the Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney that his party is struggling and needs attention to the growing concerns of its members.


“We have a caucus, which I think is very disappointing, and the voters are disappointed, and of course the membership,” Peter Guthrie said Tuesday in an interview. “I just want what is best for the future of the party and what is best for the province and the Albertans.

“I really feel that it could be (a turn back), but we are 19 months away from the next election, and we need to start listening and heeding the signs that we seeing and hearing.”

On Monday, Guthrie sent the same message to Kenney, reading aloud during the caucus a letter warning that the party’s electoral fortunes were sliding over the abyss.

“Public opinion continues to turn sour and we may come to a point where this party is no longer salvageable,” the letter read.

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“Regaining the favor of the Albertans should be our priority.

“Humbleness and trust cannot be just words.”

Guthrie declined to describe Kenney’s reaction to his comments except to say, “Clearly, the prime minister has defended his position.”

Kenney’s office declined to comment.

READ MORE: Alberta UCP constituency associations request Kenney leadership review within 3 months

Guthrie, in her letter, relayed specific concerns about a movement within the party to reschedule a leadership review vote to determine whether Kenney still has their credibility.

If Kenney received less than 50% support in such a review, he was disqualified.

The leadership vote is set for early April at the 2022 annual meeting in Edmonton.

READ MORE: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney Will Face Leadership Review in Spring: UCP President

However, 22 constituency associations sent a letter to the party executive this week, noting that they represent 25% of the requested board needed to move the vote to take place in a special meeting before March 1.

They say an earlier vote would allow all members to vote from home and not have to go to Edmonton in April to vote.

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They also acknowledged that for some of them, the move was fueled by dissatisfaction with Kenney’s leadership.

The UCP executive said they are currently discussing the letter about the leadership vote.

Guthrie noted that a resolution coming ahead of the UCP’s annual meeting this weekend in Calgary seeks to amend the laws to raise the threshold for such a proposal to 29 constituency associations from 22 .

The rationale is that 22 is too small a number to trigger a vote of such consequences.

Guthrie said a late motion to move the threshold would send an unsettling signal from a party that claims to celebrate grassroots engagement.

“It would be bad if they changed it,” Guthrie said.

“If we move the columns from 22 to 29 CA, I think the grassroots party committee cannot appreciate that.”

READ MORE: Brian Jean aims to be Alberta’s prime minister: ‘Something has to be done’

Kenney declined to comment on an expedited leadership review, saying it was up to the party to matter.

The prime minister has faced growing grievances in caucuses and his party in recent months, mainly related to his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Cases spiked in the fall, pushing hospital capacity to the brink after Kenney lifted most health restrictions and announced the pandemic was over.

The UCP fundraising is trailing the Opposition’s NDP and Kenney’s approval count has fallen to the free.

He has also faced calls from some caucus members to resign.

© 2021 Canadian Press | Backbencher gives Kenney a blunt warning about ignoring the concerns of UCP members

Aila Slisco

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