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Local constituency association joins push for early UCP leadership review vote

A group of 22 constituency associations have banded together to ask UCP president to call for a leadership review prior to March 1
media zoom conference screenshot
A group of 22 United Conservative Party (UCP) Constituency Associations (CA) have asked the party's president to call for a special general meeting at which a leadership review vote would take place. Pictured here is a screen capture of the media conference Monday Nov. 15 on Zoom, to announce they had garnered enough support to call for the vote. Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock CA president Bill Hall is in the second row, second from the right.

ATHABASCA-BARRHEAD-WESTLOCK - A group of United Conservative Party (UCP) constituency associations hope to fast-track the leadership review process that could potentially see Premier Jason Kenney replaced as leader, including the Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock Constituency Association (ABW CA).

On Nov. 15, the group held a media conference via Zoom following the release of a letter earlier in the morning that asked party president Ryan Becker to initiate a leadership review within the next three months.

The letter states that 22 constituency associations have passed identical motions that would call for the leadership review at a special general meeting (SGM) sometime before March 1. 

The letter also notes that under the party's bylaws, specifically Section 5.7, they have met the threshold of the one-quarter necessary to call for an SGM to convene the review.

The 22 constituency associations represent 36 per cent of sitting UCP MLAs.

A review of Kenney's leadership is planned for April as part of the party's 2022 annual general meeting (AGM). In September, the party decided to move next year's AGM up to the spring from its usual time in the fall. 

UCP Calgary-Fish Creek constituency association president Jack Redekop, who acted as spokesperson for the group, said they expect the number of associations passing identical motions to grow.

"This is just the first 22," he said. "More motions continue to come in as they hold their regular monthly meetings."

However, support for the motion is not unanimous, Redekop noted, as so far, three constituency boards have voted against it.

The associations are requesting that the vote be held before the AGM, he said, to allow as many UCP members input into the process as possible.

"This would allow one member one vote," Redekop said, noting the AGM limits voting to those who can attend, even if it is a leadership review. "Our party is founded on grassroots. On that basis, every member should be allowed to vote on significant questions such as leadership."

He added that by holding a leadership review vote later, they would be diverting time and attention from the legislative session.

"Our party, which is our government, needs to govern during the legislative session and the March 1 date," Redekop said.

He also noted that they are asking that the vote be supervised and audited by an independent accounting and auditing firm.

The latter, Redekop said, is to "ensure the security of the voting system."

"We know that the media in the past has suggested that there was some inappropriate malfeasance with previous campaigns," he said.

Why the need for a leadership review

On multiple occasions, Redekop was asked if the motion was part of an effort to oust the premier due to his unpopularity.

"I mean, do we have some members displeased with the leader? Of course, we do. Do we have some members that are completely supportive of the leader? Yes, we do," he said.

He added that his Calgary-Fish Creek constituency association prefaced their voting for the motion by "indicating their support for the (UCP) leader."

"And I know there are others that have indicated that as well," Redekop said. "It is just about presenting the most opportune time for every member from all corners of the province to have their say."

However, Central Peace-Notley constituency association president Samantha Steinke said her board wasn't one of the ones that supports the premier.

"I feel I would not be doing my job if I wasn't very clear on the stance of my board, which is they overwhelmingly do not support the premier. That's why we passed the motion," she said.

The only other association to comment on Kenney's leadership during the press conference was from Grande Prairie via president Derrick Casey.

"My board was split," he said. "We marginally passed it ... half of them wanted it for another reason than the other half."

Some of the issues Casey cited as potential contentious issues for Kenney were his handling of COVID, pipelines, and doctor contracts.

Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock

President Bill Hall said via an e-mail statement that the UCP constitution mandates that a leadership review is held between elections.

“The ABW UCP CA board felt this review should be held well in advance of the May 2023 election to allow the leader, whomever that may be, and the party sufficient time to be well prepared for the election,” he said. “This motion is not about whether CAs support the present leader or not. It is about maintaining the grassroots member-driven party, a principle which the UCP was founded.”

He goes on to say the goal of all constituency associations is winning the next election.

“It isn’t about any one individual,” Hall said.

He added that the board also felt that every member should have a vote at the leadership review, reiterating the need for the voting process to be conducted by an independent auditing firm to avoid any perception of wrongdoing.

“The present 22 CAs who have signed this motion are from all across the province, rural and urban, so they are not a radical group with any grudge, nor are they from a specific region. I believe we are all just endeavouring to ensure the UCP remains a grassroots member-driven party.”

Barry Kerton, TownandCountryToday.com

 



Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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