Alberta Politics

Who could replace Jason Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party?

With all the talk of challenges to Premier Jason Kenney’s embattled leadership of the United Conservative Party, his and his party’s plummeting approval ratings and lacklustre fundraising in the first three months of 2021, there has been surprisingly little talk about who might be in a position to succeed Kenney if he is pushed out of office.

Here is a quick list of a few conservative politicians who could possibly be in the running to replace Kenney as leader of the raucous UCP:

Drew Barnes – First elected in the Wildrose sweep of southern rural Alberta in 2012, Barnes refused to cross the floor with his colleagues in 2014 and was re-elected as the Wildrose MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat in 2015.

The former Wildrose leadership candidate was appointed as the UCP’s finance critic in 2018 but was left out of cabinet when his party formed government in 2019. Since then he has been outspoken from the backbenches on Alberta separatism and autonomy and is the unofficial leader of the COVID 18 Caucus.

Nathan Cooper – The current Speaker of the Legislative Assembly has been around Alberta politics for a while. First serving as Chief of Staff at the Wildrose Official Opposition Caucus, Cooper was elected as the Wildrose MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills in 2015. He later served as the interim leader of the UCP after it was formed in 2017 and was elected Speaker after the 2019 election.

Using social media Cooper has helped demystify the Office of the Speaker through informative and humourous videos. But many felt he stepped over the line by taking positions on politically charged issues, something the Speaker is traditionally expected to avoid. Earlier this month he was called out by Kenney and was forced to back down after signing a public letter with 14 other UCP MLAs calling for public health restrictions to be lifted just as the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit Alberta.

Jim Dinning His is a name that hasn’t been talked about much in Alberta politics since he lost the 2006 PC Party leadership race to Ed Stelmach, but I have heard Jim Dinning mentioned by more than one political watcher in the past few months when discussing future UCP leadership aspirants.

Dinning has been out of elected office since 1997, but his connections to the Ralph Klein era, which many UCP supporters glorify, and his distance from the scandals and missteps that have plagued the UCP since Jason Kenney became Premier in 2019, could make him an appealing leadership candidate.

Brian Jean – Jean won the leadership of the Wildrose Party on the eve of the 2015 election and helped save the party from oblivion. But there wasn’t much room left for him in the UCP after losing the leadership race to Kenney in 2017.

The one-term MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin and former Member of Parliament resigned his seat in the Legislative Assembly in 2018 and has since become a voice on social media and the newspaper op-ed pages in favour of Alberta autonomy from the rest of Canada.

Jason Nixon – First elected as a Wildrose Party MLA in 2015, Nixon was Kenney’s rural lieutenant in the UCP leadership race. He was re-elected as the UCP MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre in 2019 and his loyalty was rewarded with appointments as Minister of Environment & Parks and Government House Leader.

While fiercely partisan, Nixon is seen by many political watchers as one of the more politically savvy members of the UCP cabinet.

Rajan Sawhney – I’m told Minister of Community and Social Services of Alberta Rajan Sawhney’s calm demeanour and tough approach to a politically difficult file for the UCP government has impressed her colleagues. She is new to politics, first elected in 2019, so she may not have a political base to draw on but she could be a candidate to watch if she decides to throw her hat into a potential leadership race.

Doug Schweitzer – The current Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation and former Minister of Justice, Schweitzer was first elected as the UCP MLA for Calgary-Elbow in 2019 after unseating Alberta Party MLA Greg Clark. The former downtown Calgary lawyer and former CEO of the Manitoba PC Party very nearly ran for Alberta Progressive Conservative Party leadership in 2017. He instead served as Kenney’s scrutineer in that race and later ran for the UCP leadership, finishing third in that contest.

Shannon Stubbs – The Conservative Member of Parliament for Lakeland was a prominent voice for the province while serving as Official Opposition Critic for Natural Resources from 2017 to 2020. She is also well-known in Alberta political circles, starting as a candidate for the PC Party in the NDP-stronghold of Edmonton-Strathcona in the 2004 election and later becoming a party vice-president before crossing to the Wildrose and running under that party banner in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville in 2012.

Travis Toews – The current Finance Minister was appointed to the role after his election in Grande Prairie-Wapiti in 2019. The  accountant and former President of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association appears to largely avoid the more partisan head-butting that many of his colleagues revel in, instead sounding at times like he is the adult in the room. Toews’ isn’t exciting but he might appeal to conservatives who want to return to old fashioned boring government.

29 replies on “Who could replace Jason Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party?”

‘Nixon is seen by many political watchers as one of the more politically savvy members of the UCP cabinet.’ Savvy?! Way down the list of political adjectives that come to mind. The guy doesn’t even have the judgement to even make good staff choices, i.e. pick savvy communications staff to support him. Or how savvy are the optics for an Environment and Parks Minister to write and sign an eager, fawning invitation to Australian coal investors group including a promise to reduce red tape, streamline the process? The investor’s group circulates the letter in their investors pitch that goes public. Genius level, savvy. sure. smh

Danielle Smith can be a more effective thorn in the side outside of the legislature. Besides her husband said if she goes into politics again a divorce is on the table.

Jonathan Denis is the campaign manager for Jeromy Farkas for mayor. I wonder if this is his end goal…

Jonathan Denis has been found in contempt of court for intimidation of a witness, and is being investigated for hiring a PI to steal a reporters contacts. Disbarment and/or jail is more likely than leadership.

The Reaganite Dinning? ” We don’t have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem.”, Dinning?

Steve Arthur: Bring back Ralph? No thank you. What good has Ralph Klein done for Alberta? Ralph Klein ruined what Peter Lougheed created. Ralph Klein was corrupt to the core, and we still have to pay for his very costly scandals and neglect.

The entire UCP party needs to go. If Kenney really cared about how Albertans feel about his Government, he would call an election. Not only does his own party want him gone, so do the majority of Albertans.

While you are correct, Tina, the kind of replacement the UCP members have in mind is exactly the opposite of what most Albertans have in mind. If it does nothing else, the list of names our host has presented makes Jason Kenney look appealing.

I think you are asking the wrong question. “Which man is the right man to replace the right’s man, who is a man, but not the right man?” Wrong! The question is, “What should replace this man?” The writing is already on the bathroom wall. A UCP comment, recorded in Hansard, gives a clue. The UCP want to give Alberta’s treasury an enema, so why not elect a toilet as their leader? It is equally efficient at flushing money away, without all the red tape and middlemen. And it stinks.

Somebody who isn’t a middle aged white guy!

Look around, time’s a changing and visibility of women, minorities, etc. carries a lot of power.

Man, man, man, man, man, man, man and a man. Wild guess says it’s a man. I’ll venture further to guess a white man.

This is a good list of the most likely candidates. Now that doesn’t mean most of them would necessarily resonate well with the general public. I think the most comfortable choice for the UCP would be to go with someone more to the right than a centrist conservative.

None of these choices seem that great to me, but perhaps there is some talent or something else hidden as Kenney tends to hog the spotlight. It would be interesting to see Brian Jean try make a comeback, especially as I feel he was partly done in by dirty tricks from others when he ran for the UCP leadership before.

Dear God…it’s Sunday, but can you relieve us of this heinous UCP bunch?!! Those pasty, white males, pictured above, are a living nightmare and we need sense to take hold in Alberta, by firmly dismissing the sorry lot of them.
As Kenney has now twisted himself in knots, by trying unsuccessfully to manage his base, he MUST resign. The pandemic “management” has been a disaster, as we lead Canada in horrific Covid case numbers. Between alienating the medical profession and ignoring their advice to bring in a lockdown months ago, it’s clear he has failed in several other areas too (coal policy, draft curriculum to name just two). In fact the only success he has had is leading Alberta to #1 in Covid cases. #UCPfail

ema2: Yes, Alberta now has the greatest per capita rate of people with Covid-19 in all of North America. The UCP never does what’s right.

I find it really easy to imagine a non-premier Jason Kenney right in there with the likes of Drew Barnes et al demanding an end to the restrictions. Alas for the populist wanna be, he is morally required to do what is right.

It does make me wonder what Drew Barnes would do if he suddenly found himself premier. The thought of being actually responsible for the policies he is advocating might give him a change of heart.

Till Alberta and especially Canada calls out the myth of religion, there will always be this group of ppl in the right wing of politics that will FOREVER fuck the Conservatives from EVER getting back into power. If a Conservative wants to win and have the popular vote they need to denounce religion and tell the religious whack a doodles that abortion is legal safe and will be allowed till the end of Canada existence. Religion is the biggest most serious threat to the Dominion.

Alberta used to be the Bible belt of Canada. Our province was the envy of all people in Canada! The days of Galardy, Manning, Lougheed, Klien; we had prosperity and fiscal responsibility. Those were the good days! You might all be wise to reflect back, you were around then, and reevaluate what they brought the table! THEY WORKED FOR THE PEOPLE – NOT OTHER WAY AROUND!

If Danielle Smith doesn’t lead the UCP into the next election we will get an NDP government and a good reason for me to leave the province!! And I will put the blame directly on her !! She shoul be the premier now ?…

My choice of a leader for Alberta would be a Canadian born, experienced in Business, economics with a strong leadership expertise.
Alberta needs more of the basic values, adherence to the constitution of Canada, rather than following federal mandates and swept away by NWO, ideaologies that are not practical or in the best interest of working people.
Brian Jean has those traits! Danielle Smith would also be an excellent candidate! There should always be a public debate, so we the people have input as to who earned the position, unlike what we have in Calgary & Edmon cities.

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