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Alberta Politics

It’s an open rebellion. UCP MLA Todd Loewen calls on Jason Kenney to resign

Central Peace-Notley MLA Todd Loewen has resigned as chair of the United Conservative Party Caucus and is calling on Premier Jason Kenney to resign as leader of the United Conservative Party.

Letter from Todd Loewen calling of Jason Kenney to resign
Letter from Todd Loewen calling of Jason Kenney to resign
Letter from Todd Loewen calling of Jason Kenney to resign
Letter from Todd Loewen calling of Jason Kenney to resign

In a letter posted on his Facebook page at  11:52 p.m. last night, Loewen, a former Wildrose Party MLA who was first elected in 2015 and supported Brian Jean in the 2017 UCP leadership race, announced his resignation as chair and explained the reasons for his calling on Kenney to step down.

Loewen was one of 18 UCP MLAs who openly criticized the government’s COVID-19 health restrictions, so it was surprising that the reasons listed in his letter were not related to the government’s response to COVID-19. Instead, Loewen criticized Kenney for his handling of negotiations with physicians, plans to expand open-pit coal mining in the Rockies and losing the trust of Albertans.

“We did not unite around one man,” Loewen wrote, taking a direct shot at Kenney’s leadership.

Kenney has always had lower approval and popularity ratings than his party, but over the last year his approval ratings have plummeted and he has begun to drag his party down with him. The UCP has polled behind Rachel Notley’s Alberta NDP in every public poll since November 2020 and the NDP raised twice as much money as the UCP in the first three months of 2021.

Challenges to Kenney’s leadership have been growing.

UCP constituency presidents and activists have signed a letter calling on Kenney to resign and for a leadership review to be held, and there have been rumblings of major unhappiness in the UCP caucus for months, but this is the first time a UCP MLA has called on the Premier to step down.

There is now an open rebellion against Kenney in the UCP caucus.

The Premier has no choice but to now remove Loewen from the government caucus. If he doesn’t, it will show that he has clearly lost control of his caucus and the loyalty of his MLAs.

As I have written before, the UCP Kenney helped create is an institutional mix of former Progressive Conservatives, who do not tolerate leaders who look like they are going to lose, and Wildrosers, who just don’t want to be led.

Now we wait to see how Kenney reacts.


Update: David Hanson, the UCP MLA for Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul, has posted on Facebook that he supports Loewen’s letter calling on Kenney to resign. Hanson was first elected as a Wildrose MLA in 2015 and was one of the 18 UCP MLAs who publicly criticized the government’s COVID-19 health restrictions. He also endorsed Brian Jean in the 2017 UCP leadership race.

MLA David Hanson's Facebook post supporting Todd Loewen's letter calling on Jason Kenney to resign as leader of the United Conservative Party.
MLA David Hanson’s Facebook post supporting Todd Loewen’s letter calling on Jason Kenney to resign as leader of the United Conservative Party.

Update: The UCP Caucus virtual meeting, which was scheduled to take place at 9:00 a.m. today has been cancelled.

5 replies on “It’s an open rebellion. UCP MLA Todd Loewen calls on Jason Kenney to resign”

The conservative parties have had rebellions before, that is how they got rid of Stelmach and Redford after all. But we’ve never had open rebellion in recent memory. Kenney is arrogant enough to try and hang on, so the rebellion has only two directions – let a few people get kicked out (and then go quiet) or force a vote of confidence. There is no way the ucp wins a general election called now. Is the rebellion really willing to give up power? So I’m thinking this is a much ado about nothing. But I really don’t think Kenney can fix this in two years. So we are looking at a lame duck government, so really for the sake of the province I do hope for an election call.

The Trumpians have never been shy. Democracy is an impediment to their vision and all Albertans should be watching. I wonder if Loewen also worked on the Trump campaign with his fellow MLAs. Scary stuff if successful but rational Albertans will have the final say.

The UCP are broken like a piece of old pottery. It’s impossible to fix the damage they have done to Alberta, very easily.

Well it seems to me there are only two ways this can end – the dissidents go, or Kenney does. Reconciliation does not seem plausible at this point.

I suppose in the short term Kenney has some advantage, as he wields the power. However, all his troubles ultimately stem from his unpopularity with voters, which comes from a series of unpopular things he has done mostly over the last year. If he can’t improve his popularity soon, I doubt the dissent will end.

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