South Peace News
Central Peace – Notley MLA Todd Loewen is pleased to hear that Premier Jason Kenney has resigned as the leader of the United Conservative Party.
Kenney announced May 18 he would resign as the leader, shortly after results of a mail-in leadership review showed 51.4 per cent of more than 34,000 votes supported the current leader.
However, Kenney will remain in his roles until a new UCP leader is chosen.
“It was just over one year ago that I first asked Jason Kenney to resign for the good of Alberta, my constituents and the conservative movement I represent,” says Loewen, now serving as an Independent MLA.
He was kicked out of the UCP caucus in a vote by caucus May 13, 2021 after he voiced his opposition to Kenney, his leadership and about how he handled the COVID-19 restrictions.
“For me, it was never about personalities, but about principles – principles like limited government, civil liberties, democratic reform, accountability and trust in government,” Loewen says.
“Standing behind principle is always important, regardless who the leader is and I hope to do that effectively.”
He may throw his hat into the ring to become the next leader.
“Right now, I am talking with a number of people about whether it would be best to try to advance those principles as leader myself,” Loewen says.
“I haven’t made any decisions yet, but I won’t rule it out.
“My intention is to represent the values and needs of the people I serve as best I can and if that has to be through a leadership run, I will consider that possibility.”
He questions Kenney’s decision to hang on until his successor is named.
“In the days since his announcement, there has been a lot of confusion about what his resignation truly meant,” Loewen says.
“It would be my preference to see him resign quickly so that we can put the past behind us and get on with the important work of restoring trust in our government.
“We need new leadership before that process can begin and I’d rather see that sooner than later.”
He is calling on Kenney to think about it.
“If Jason Kenney is indeed committing to move on and leave Alberta politics behind him, then that would be the right choice for the province and the conservative movement,” Loewen says.
He says the low support for Kenney in the vote show it’s time for a new leader.
“A result like this in any leadership review is obviously too low to continue to govern with any moral authority,” Loewen says.
“Even with trust in the process so low, to scrape by with 51 per cent is evidence that the people have had enough.
“Leadership reviews are internal party processes where you are expected to get a larger number because you’re essentially polling your own supporters.”
It leads to another question from Loewen.
“If your party does not support you who will?”
Loewen believes Kenney and his team have been out of touch with Albertans in recent months.
“Kenney himself said he rarely hears from anyone who doesn’t support him,” Loewen says.
“This is exactly the problem.
“He has clearly surrounded himself with yes-men and has isolated himself from the general public.”
Loewen suggests the party leadership learn from it.
“It does appear the leadership of the party was truly shocked by the rebuke,” Loewen says.
“They needed to listen more and take serious concerns of the people more seriously.
“Now, that window has closed and people simply want a change.”
Peace River MLA Dan Williams had no comment in a response to an email request from South Peace News. He sent a statement released May 19 from UCP caucus chair Nathan Neudorf.
“Today, the United Conservative caucus had a vigorous discussion and debate about the future of our party and our government,” says Neudorf, MLA for Lethbridge-East.
“We agreed that we must remain united, focused on the best interests of Albertans and committed to doing the job Albertans elected us to do.
“In that spirit, we have affirmed Premier Jason Kenney’s continued leadership of our caucus and government until such time as a new leader is chosen, the timing of which will be determined by the United Conservative Party.”
Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn did not respond to an email request for comment.