Alberta Politics

Pat Rehn booted from UCP Caucus. Town Councils called for MIA MLA to resign

Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn has been removed from the United Conservative Party caucus, according to a statement released by Premier Jason Kenney. It is not clear whether Kenney unilaterally removed Rehn himself or whether it was the result of a vote by UCP MLAs.

Rehn was caught up in the recent hot holiday scandal after a year-end trip to Mexico, but the political problems facing the first term MLA were bigger than that.

The entire town council of Slave Lake, the largest municipality in his northern Alberta district, called on him to resign for being an absentee MLA and apparently being unwilling to live or spend time in the region since he was elected in 2019. The letter also alleged that he spent “more physical time managing his business in Texas” than being physically present in the constituency.

The town council of High Prairie was also planning to send a similar letter to the MIA MLA.

Recent reports suggest that while in Alberta he spent almost all his time in Edmonton rather than in the district he was elected to represent.

This is not the first time the local councils have raised concerns with the UCP government about Rehn’s lack of presence in the region but it appears that his becoming a political problem for Kenney was the final straw for the absent backbencher.

This marks the first time that Kenney, reluctantly it appears, has removed an MLA from the UCP caucus. After initially defending them in a strange press conference, Kenney bowed to public pressure and removed Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard as Municipal Affairs Minister and accepted the resignation of his Chief of Staff, Jamie Huckabay, for their overseas travel over the holidays.

Five other sun-seeking backbench UCP MLAs, including Rehn, who were discovered to have gone on hot holidays after the government spent months telling Albertans to avoid non-essential international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, were removed from their committee roles.

Here is Kenney’s statement:

Rehn will now sit as an Independent MLA, the only Independent in Alberta’s Legislative Assembly. When the Assembly reconvenes in February, it will have 62 UCP MLAs, 24 NDP MLAs and 1 Independent.

3 replies on “Pat Rehn booted from UCP Caucus. Town Councils called for MIA MLA to resign”

It seems to be non stop, mostly self created, problems for the UCP since the beginning of the year. Just when we thought in December after all the problems with them handling COVID, it would not get much worse. Well, it seems to have.

In some ways this is almost as bad as the Flying Circus, in some ways perhaps worse. First, this seems to be a situation going on for 8 months or more, so it is harder for Kenney to claim he did not know about this problem until recently and his failure to deal with it sooner does not look good. Second, it raises further questions about the capabilities and judgement of UCP MLA’s, as if there were not enough already. Third, ignoring rural Alberta isn’t something that Kenney and the UCP, whose only remaining base of strong support now is rural Alberta, can afford to get stuck with now.

A Wikipedia user has posted this on travelling MLA Tany Yao’s page:

“Yao travelled to Mexico at the end of 2020 despite regulations that required Albertans to avoid non-essential travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. He did this because he needed to disconnect after working really hard in 2020 to pass a single one page bill.”

There is a note that the neutrality of this page is disputed.

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