‘I know that many of you are angry with me’: Kenney speaks to UCP tensions during AGM in Calgary

CALGARY — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is acknowledging tensions within his United Conservative party while the UCP president is pleading with members to remain united under the camp’s banner.

Both remarks came moments apart at the party’s annual general meeting in Calgary.

Kenney gave a keynote speech in which he defended actions to protect the province’s health-care system during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the fact that some of those actions caused rifts within party ranks.

Kenney says he doesn’t regret his government’s pandemic-fighting measures despite the anger they caused.

Read more: UCP members take sides for and against Kenney at party’s annual general meeting

The premier faced heavy criticism from people who thought the varied restrictions were too strong and others who thought he should have acted sooner and more decisively.

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Kenney’s approval rating has plummeted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and a series of contentious issues, such as an ongoing lawsuit against his office and political infighting, have framed much of his time in office.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney gives a thumbs up after his speech at the United Conservative Party annual meeting in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

He says he welcomes an upcoming leadership review but asks members to focus on the priorities of Albertans instead of internal party business.

“There will be a leadership review vote next year and I want you to know I welcome that, I embrace that opportunity for accountability,” Kenney said during his keynote speech on Saturday.

“We have some internal differences — every big tent political party does and always will — but let us address and resolve those internal differences internally.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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