Kenney to face his most formidable opponent in Brian Jean
Back in May of 2021, United Conservatives Party (UPC) MLA Todd Loewen pend a scathing open letter to the leader of his party Premier Kenney calling for this resignation. Loewen along with 18 senior backbenchers signalled they have lost confidence in Kenney’s leadership. UPC members have always had the opportunity to speak freely but it is an unspoken rule to go against the leader of any party. That is why Loewen resigned as the UPC party Caucus Chair.
In a few excerpts from Loewen’s letter he wrote, “We did not unite around blind loyalty to one man. And while you promoted unity, it is clear that unity is falling apart.”
“The caucus dysfunction we are presently experiencing is a direct result of your leadership.”
“Albertans perceive our government as out of touch and arrogant, and they expect our caucus to bring their issues of concern to the government.”
Loewen is frustrated with Kenney’s handling of the pandemic and felt he has been soft on his approach when dealing with the Trudeau administration. At that time, Alberta’s rate of infection has seen as many as two thousand new cases per day, which surpasses India’s 100,000 per day on a per capita basis. The province of Alberta is hurting, from devastating annual natural disasters and a natural gas industry that has been on the downturn with no clear indication of when it will rebound.
The need for new leadership in Alberta was evident, but at that time it remained unclear who would step up to challenge Kenney to be the leader and assume the role of Premier. All of these questions were answered last night with Brian Jean winning the by-election Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche.
Jean won 63.6 percent of the vote which is a clear indication of his popularity among his voters. Jean will now take on the tough task of unseating Premier Kenney in April. With just over 8,000 eligible voters, Jean has a legitimate of becoming Alberta’s next Premier. That being said, Kenney does still have name recognition and access to donors with deep wallets.
Premier Kenney’s UPC party is in the middle of a civil war playing out in the public eye. If they hope to fend off the surging NDP in the polls ahead of the 2023 provincial elections, a clear sense of unity is required.
Image source Jean Twittrer feed