Any appearance that Premier Jason Kenney had regained control over his United Conservative Party caucus three weeks ago when rebel MLAs Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen were ejected was shattered this weekend.
A handful of UCP MLAs, including two cabinet ministers, are now publicly calling on the Kenney to apologize for breaking COVID-19 public health restrictions by hosting a boozy Sky Palace patio party that was caught on camera.
The photos of Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon and Finance Minister Travis Toews, and senior political staff dining at a booze filled table atop the penthouse patio of the notorious Sky Palace circulated on social media this week.
Kenney and company were clearly breaking the government’s own public health restrictions. But, instead of admitting they made a mistake and moving on, the Premier’s political staff jumped on social media to aggressively attack anyone who criticized their leader, claiming they did not break any rules.
But some UCP MLAs remain pretty unconvinced.
Airdrie-East MLA Angela Pitt, a leader of the UCP’s COVID-18, posted on Facebook that it was clear that Kenney and the senior cabinet ministers were breaking public health restrictions.
“Looking at these photos it seems clear to me that several health restrictions were violated,” wrote Pitt.
Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills UCP MLA David Hanson posted on Facebook that he agreed with Pitt. “I’m with you Angela. Albertans are angry, again, and rightly so, disappointing,” Hanson wrote.
And today, Chestermere-Strathmore MLA Leela Aheer, who also serves as Deputy Leader of the UCP and Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism & Status of Women, called on Kenney to “sincerely apologize” for breaking public health rules.
Aheer also took Kenney to task over his long-winded lecture defending Sir John A. Macdonald and claims that critics of Canada’s first Prime Minister are engaging in “cancel culture.”
Kenney’s comments were incredibly insensitive in light of the discovery of the remains of 215 children buried at a former Residential School in Kamloops. Kenney’s comments prompted strong responses from the Confederation of Treaty Six First Nations and the Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta.
Minister of Community and Social Services Rajan Sawhney, the UCP MLA for Calgary-North East, also called on Kenney to apologize for his boozy Sky Palace patio party.
“If they have committed a mistake, they must accept it openly. (The) photo clearly speaks,” Sawhney said on RED 106.7 FM in Calgary.
Meanwhile, Red Deer-South UCP MLA Jason Stephan is calling on the Kenney government to launch a public inquiry into the cost of its public health restrictions.
In this case, the attempted coverup was probably worse than the crime. Most Albertans would probably have accepted a quick apology from Kenney and his senior cabinet ministers for the rule breaking that so obviously occurred in the photos.
Kenney’s inability to admit that he made a mistake, and his staff’s overly aggressive attacks on anyone who pointed out what was clearly happening in the photos, has only given his opponents in the UCP caucus another reason to publicly criticize him.
This is certainly not the type of criticism that a Premier with a 16 per cent approval rating should be courting.
5 replies on “Kenney’s reaction to boozy Sky Palace patio party photos sparks another UCP Caucus rebellion”
In this case, I believe the sequel could be worse (for Kenney) than the original rebellion.
The earlier rebellion was about COVID restrictions, which some thought were too severe. A debatable point, but in that case Kenney was dealing with a difficult situation not of his own making and trying to come to a conclusion, one that not everyone would be happy with.
The Sky Palace last supper, was an entirely self created problem. Kenney is supposed to be smarter than do things like this, or that is at least what many of his own party supporters thought. It is now being compounded by denying any wrong doing and attacking any one who dares suggest so. Does he really think Albertan’s and even his own MLA’s are so gullible? This is more like the travel scandal back in December, except minus the quick apology.
At one time no so long ago, the UCP considered Kenney to be a political asset. I have a feeling this is now shifting and they are starting to see him more as a liability and will deal with him accordingly.
The next shoe to drop may be the constituency association letter calling for a early leadership review.
Given the Fall/22 Approval Vote, Kenny’s only option is to adopt, hook line and sinker, the ideas of the extreme right wingers and hope for the best. With his mind set ( see Kamikaze Campaign) the alternative moderate avenue does not seem likely. The only question is whether the UCP is hijacked by the Trumpians or they have their own Crazy Party. The RCMP investigation could expedite the timeline if charges are laid.
He and his “UCP” could survive. The stink of incompetence will follow him forever though!
The UCP are in damage control mode, but Alberta will have a tough time recovering from the UCP’s big mess they have made.