Braid: Pressure is growing for an early review of Kenney’s leadership

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The rules for next weekend’s UCP annual meeting in Calgary have a strange turn.

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Only one person can propose a new resolution: Jason Kenney, the party leader. All others are prohibited from placing new businesses on the floor.

Some veterans of Alberta’s conservative parties say they have never seen anything like it. They read it as clear proof that all efforts to accelerate a lead review will be blocked.

The rule states: “No resolutions other than the Special Resolutions and Resolutions approved by the Board shall be considered, except those proposed by the leader.”

It hardly looks like the work of a people’s party.

At least 20 riders approved their own identically worded resolution calling for an early vote on Kenney’s leadership.

Devin Dreeshen’s Innisfail-Sylvan Lake riding now needs a review. On Friday, Edmonton-Decore was added to the list.

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The total number of rides is not entirely clear, partly because the results are coming fast and the party apparatus does not want to enable cooperation between these rides.

But some say the true tally is as high as 23. Twenty-two approvals are needed to force the party to convene a special general meeting to consider the leadership.

Some riding presidents plan to send a letter to the party saying these resolutions have been passed and must be heeded. They feel that otherwise, the party could deny official knowledge of the motions.

A board review will take place next April, but the dissidents want it sooner. Their motion also requires independent control of the voting system and the counting.

For many dissidents, ensuring an honest vote is just as important as the time.

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Those people suspect a fun trade when Kenney confronts the members. That’s a lasting legacy of the irregularities in Kenney’s 2017 leadership campaign.

The Edmonton Northwest Ride, whose president works for the central party, has a resolution to vote next weekend. It requires raising the bar for an early overhaul from 22 to 29 rides.

Todd Loewen, MLA for Central Peace Notley, was removed from the UCP caucus when he demanded Kenney's resignation.
Todd Loewen, MLA for Central Peace Notley, was removed from the UCP caucus when he demanded Kenney’s resignation. Photo by Peter Shokeir /Daily Herald-Tribune file

“That just shows how determined Kenney is to control everything and fix everything just to stay in power,” says Todd Loewen, the MLA for Central Peace Notley, who was removed from the UCP caucus when he demanded Kenney’s resignation.

On Thursday, Loewen was in Grande Prairie for the government’s announcement of a low-emission petrochemical facility, with approximately $ 2.5 billion in investment.

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With him was Samantha Steinke, president of the riding association for which he is no longer the MLA. He sits as an Independent.

Loewen is still a supporter, however, and says he will attend the convention. Steinke is a candidate to be the vice president of communications for the central party.

Voting for party administration posts will take place next week. The choice of known opponents like Steinke would signify a major problem for Kenney.

In some stables where the MLA are ministers, boards wanted to pass the early review resolution but hesitated as the ministers pointed out how much sadness this would cause them.

That changes in a number of ridings, possibly including Dreeshen’s Innisfail-Silvana Lake.

The constituency’s early review motion was not passed until after he left cabinet due to allegations of drinking at work.

Overall, there has never been a party in such a state of tumultuous discontent since the computer board of former Prime Minister Alison Redford forced her resignation in 2014.

But Kenney, unlike Redford, still has control of his own central party board – at least until next weekend.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Calgary Herald.

Twitter: @DonBraid

Facebook: Don Braid’s Politics

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