Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn ousted from UCP caucus, forced to sit as independent

An Alberta MLA, chastised for travelling to Mexico over the holidays and publicly criticized for alleged absenteeism in his constituency, has been ousted from Premier Jason Kenney’s UCP caucus. 

Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn has been removed from caucus and will be barred from running for the UCP ever again, Kenney announced on Facebook Thursday morning.

“I have made the decision to remove Pat Rehn from the UCP Caucus, effective immediately,” Kenney wrote. “He will not be permitted to run for a future UCP nomination.” 

Rehn will now sit as an independent MLA. 

“The most important job of an MLA is to represent his or her constituents,” Kenney wrote. “It has become clear that Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn has failed to do so.

“He has made no meaningful effort to work in his constituency, or properly to represent his hard-working constituents.

“I have repeatedly asked Mr. Rehn to be more present in his constituency. He has ignored calls from me, UCP caucus leadership, and his constituents to do so.” 

The announcement from Kenney comes amid widespread calls for Rehn’s resignation. 

Rehn was one of six UCP MLAs who travelled outside of Canada over the holidays. As punishment, Kenney had previously stripped him of his legislative committee positions.

The travel scandal, however, released a wave of backlash against the rookie MLA. 

Handmade signs critical of Rehn popped up in High Prairie and Slave Lake.

Earlier this month, Slave Lake town council called for Rehn to resign in a scathing public missive that accused him of missing or arriving ill-prepared for meetings and placing his personal business interests over constituency work.  

High Prairie town council voted unanimously last week to send a letter to Rehn addressing his lack of presence in the region.

In his statement, Kenney said the province is in contact with local government officials in the Slave Lake constituency.

“Alberta government Ministers and I will be meeting with Lesser Slake Lake constituents in the weeks to come to ensure that they have direct access to their government, and to help them address important local issues,” Kenney wrote. 

Earlier this week, Rehn’s expense claims for the first two quarters of 2020 came to light. The claims suggested he spent very little time in his constituency. 

The MLA claimed per diems for meals purchased in Edmonton for all but two days in May, most of June and every day in July. The legislature sat for five days in April and five days in May due to the pandemic. 

Sittings were more regular in June and July but Rehn even claimed meal per diems on weekends in July. In total, his per diem claims totalled $4,488 for the first two quarters of 2020-21 fiscal year. Claims for the third quarter, which ended on Dec. 31, will be posted at the end of January. 

Rehn has not responded to repeated requests for an interview from CBC News.

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