Alberta’s United Conservative Party leader says he stays in job to block “lunatics”

Quite a juicy report about the governing party of Alberta today. Premier and United Conservative Party (UCP) leader Jason Kenny has been recorded having told a caucus staff meeting that he does not need the job and could just walk away. However, he says the party is at risk of being taken over by conspiracy mongers and other fanatics, and he is trying to stop them. “I don’t say this stuff publicly, these are just kooky people generally,” he said, and “I will not let this mainstream conservative party become an agent for extreme, hateful, intolerant, bigoted and crazy views … the lunatics are trying to take over the asylum.”

The backstory is that the UCP is itself a merger of the old Progressive Conservative Party and the Wildrose, which is indeed a far-right “populist” and conspiracy-motivated group. This division on the right is what enabled the NDP to win government in 2015, but the two parties did not draw from the same voter pool and hence the merged party has always been a fraught marriage of convenience. The UCP has a leadership review coming up, which might cost Kenney the job he does not need but is fighting to keep. From the recording–released obviously by an opponent inside the staff–his remarks on party leadership fights make for amusing reading. From the above-linked CBC story:

At a normal convention, he says, “1,300 hungover [Progressive Conservatives] would wake up at a convention hotel on Saturday morning and they’d grab a coffee and they’d stumble in to cast a ballot in the leadership review. 

“And 15 or 20 per cent or so — the people that didn’t get the appointment, didn’t get the funding, or the premier didn’t send flowers on their birthday or whatever — they would come and vote against the leader. And then everything was fine. And if that was what I was dealing with, no problems. No problem. Normal internal politics I can handle. I can handle that. There’s nothing normal about this.”

The leadership review itself has been changed to mail-in, after the number of new registrants for party membership greatly exceeded the capacity of the hall the party had booked for the planned in-person vote.

3 thoughts on “Alberta’s United Conservative Party leader says he stays in job to block “lunatics”

  1. It’s a pity that the previous NDP government didn’t change the electoral system to proportional representation, Alberta needs is to stop a dominant party dynasty system, no doubt such a thing can happen under any electoral system, with PR, the opposition can have proper representation, the winning party does not get 20% to 30% seat bonuses.

    It is amazing that Alberta has never had a minority government in its history.

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    • Parties that find themselves at last in power thanks to the workings of FPTP are not generally prone to use that power to dump FPTP. For one thing, they have urgent policy matters to advance, having finally been handed full power to do so. For another, they find they rather like the idea of being in power, and expect their current experience won’t be the last.

      And indeed, for the NDP, it likely will not have been. They are currently favored to return to power at the next election, which could come sooner than the currently scheduled May 29, 2023, date.

      Alberta has a very small assembly (for its population) and a long history of a dominant party–not always the same party over time–so it is not all that surprising that they have never had a minority government. It is possible that demographic and political changes in the province are making it more likely in the near future.

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