The United Conservative Party will hold a leadership review during its annual general meeting next year — which also happens to be about six months before the 2023 provincial election.
In an email to party constituency presidents on Friday, UCP president Ryan Becker said members passed a resolution in 2020 to hold regular party leader reviews at one of every three AGMs.
“With all that party building, all those nominations and the excitement of defeating the NDP, we still had plenty of holes to plug in our governance documents and bylaws,” the email read.
After receiving legal advice and consultation, the party decided to hold the leadership review in 2022.
“We believe this keeps us fully compliant with our bylaws and strengthens membership engagement with our party,” the email read.
The premiers’ office said Sunday that this leadership review is in accordance with the UCP constitution.
“The UCP has always been a grassroots, member-driven party, and members are always encouraged to be active and have their say,” a statement read.
“Premier Jason Kenney and the UCP government have already delivered on nearly 75 per cent of the promises made in the 2019 election campaign while focusing on protecting Albertans’ lives and livelihoods with a nation-leading vaccination campaign and a budget that includes a historic investment in health care and economic recovery.”
Calgary political scientist Duane Bratt said the decision leaves Kenney in a “sweet spot,” adding that no governing party would topple their leader that close to an election.
“I think what Kenney has done has been quite shrewd to say, ‘We’re going to have a leadership review as part of our constitution. It’s going to occur at the AGM in 2022.’ Now that is a year and a half away, so a lot can happen in that time period. More importantly, it’s only a couple of months before the general election,” he said.
“I think he has found the sweet spot between addressing concerns over a leadership review as well as ensuring that it goes well for Kenney.
“There’s still an opportunity, if a sufficient number of constituency association presidents go on the record, formally signed a letter, they can have a leadership review prior to that but it forces them out in the open.”
The people who would be most upset about this decision would never support the UCP in the first place, Bratt explained.
“If you’re an NDP supporter, I’m not sure the UCP is really taking your view of the leader into consideration because it wouldn’t matter who they chose or what the result of the review would be, so I think Kenney has addressed some of the concerns that he’s been facing within his own party by making this announcement and making it when he did,” he said.
“[COVID restrictions] are where we’re seeing the dividing lines, plus bad poll numbers, and poll numbers go up and they go down. A successful vaccination rollout, which we’re seeing the early stages of, is obviously, I think, going to increases his popularity.”
Kenney’s current approval rating is 39 per cent, according to the Angus Reid Institute.
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