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Alberta Politics

Here he goes, again. Brian Jean running for the UCP nomination in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election

Here he goes, again.

Former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean announced today that he plans to run for the job he quit three years ago.

Jean announced on Facebook that he plans to seek the United Conservative Party nomination in the upcoming Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election. The by-election to replace Laila Goodridge, who was recently elected as a Member of Parliament, needs to be called by Feb. 15, 2022. He is the second candidate to announce after Joshua Gogo entered the race last month.

Jean represented the predecessor riding, Fort McMurray-Conklin, from 2015 until 2018, when he quit after losing the UCP leadership to Jason Kenney.

This is Jean’s second political comeback. His first happened when he was a last minute candidate for the Wildrose Party leadership in 2015 after stepping down as a MP in 2014. He saved the party from the brink of oblivion in that election and became leader of the Official Opposition.

Since leaving the Legislature in 2018, he has become a vocal critic of the government, flirted with western separatism in online columns, and called for Kenney to resign as leader of the UCP.

“Something must be done or Rachel Notley will win the next election with an overwhelming majority,” Jean wrote on Facebook of the popular NDP leader who’s party has been leading in the polls since last November, once again publicly signalling his lack of confidence in Kenney.

Jean has every reason to dislike Kenney after an alleged Kamakaze campaign was organized against him during the UCP leadership race, and since quitting he has appeared to take pleasure in poking at his rival from the sidelines.

Jean was even spotted at a Calgary Stampede BBQ hosted by ousted UCP MLAs Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen over the summer.

Brian Jean and Jason Kenney
Brian Jean and Jason Kenney

There is little doubt that he could win the nomination and the by-election. He is a well-known and popular figure in Fort McMurray, and he comes across as affable and down to earth to anyone who meets him. His lack of stick-to-it-iveness should probably raise some concerns, but at this point local conservatives might just be hopeful to find a candidate who can reliably hold on to the seat.

The question is whether the increasingly unpopular Kenney will allow a rival who has openly called for his resignation to run under his party’s banner?

And if Jean isn’t allowed to run for Kenney’s party, will he run as an Independent or for another party, like the struggling Wildrose Independence Party.

Of course, Jean isn’t alone in calling for Kenney’s resignation.

Leela Aheer and Brian Jean
Leela Aheer and Brian Jean

His former colleague, UCP MLA Leela Aheer, stood at a podium in the Legislature Rotunda last week to call for the Premier to step down and she does not appear to have faced any consequences. Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Richard Gotfried has been openly agitating for an leadership review to be held before March 1.

No emergency caucus meeting was held to kick them out, and perhaps more notably, no Kenney loyalists in the cabinet or caucus stepped up to rebuke them and defend their leader. The silence was deafening.

So, Jean now wants his seat back, and he probably wants his party back too.


It is not uncommon for party leaders and politicians to spend time in ridings where by-elections are expected,

Rachel Notley (source: Facebook)

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley was in Fort McMurray in October meeting with community groups and highlighting the UCP government’s failure to stop the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which overwhelmed the staff at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.

Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview NDP MLA Deron Bilous, who served as Economic Development Minister in the first Notley government, is in Fort McMurray this week and has posted a series of videos about his visit on Instagram.

The UCP Caucus was scheduled to hold its annual retreat in Fort McMurray on Sept. 15 and 16, but the event that would have brought most UCP MLAs to the northeast Alberta city ahead of the by-election was abruptly canceled on Sept. 10 after rumours that Kenney was facing a caucus revolt. Kenney also cancelled his scheduled Sept. 15 keynote speech to the annual Oil Sands Conference and Trade Show, which the UCP Caucus retreat was planned around.

10 replies on “Here he goes, again. Brian Jean running for the UCP nomination in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election”

How do you spell Showdown? Kenny has spent his credibility while Jean is ready for round 2. I suspect that Kenny will disqualify Jean from running so leading another right wing party is the probable outcome. Meanwhile, Notley is the beneficiary of all this turmoil within the UCP. Somebody should have told Kenny in 2017 that “what goes around, comes around”. Kamikaze now has a different meaning!

Brian Jean definitely got a raw deal from Jason Kenney and his UCP backers that orchestrated Kenney’s suspicious victory for the UCP leadership. For that reason I would really enjoy seeing Mr. Jean getting his revenge by pushing Jason Kenney out.

That said, Brian Jean seems to be following Erin O’Toole’s strategy of appealing to the extreme right wing of the party in order to gain the leadership role. If this is successful, will Mr. Jean then try to win an election campaigning from the extreme right, or will he try the chameleon route that failed for Mr. O’Toole and try to appear as a moderate?

If Brian Jean stabs Kenney in the back over the leadership, thus dividing conservatives into smaller groups or parties, he will be guilty of turning Alberta back to the NDP (or New Demolition Party), which under the leadership of Rachael Notley, put Alberta so far in debt that our grandchildren and great grandchildren will still be paying for that debt. The interest on that debt when NDP was ousted, was FIVE MILLION DOLLARS PER DAY. I along with almost all of our group will not be voting for Brian Jean for sure, and will be hit hard by more debt if NDP rules Alberta again.

The debt will be the least of the concerns of your grandchildren and great grandchildren. Voting for Brian Jean isn’t gonna help them. Climate action now is what will help them.

P>Volk: This should set the record straight on who is TOTALLY responsible for creating Alberta’s fiscal problems, leaving Alberta dead broke. These pretend conservatives and Reformers in Alberta took the great efforts of Peter Lougheed, and turned them upside down.

– $575 billion in revenue was gone for good after the Alberta PCs messed with the oil royalty rate regime Peter Lougheed got.
– When Peter Lougheed ceased to be premier of Alberta, the Alberta PCs never, ever put money back into the Heritage Savings Trust Fund. They often dipped into it, like a kid taking cookies from a cookie jar.
– Ralph Klein basically gave away the whole kit and kaboodle of the oil in Alberta, that Peter Lougheed said belonged to Albertans, and let foreign oil barons take it and the vast majority of the revenue for themselves.
– Unlike Peter Lougheed, Ralph Klein never put his foot down and ensured oil companies cleanup after themselves. The result is that Albertans are left with a gigantic fee of $260 billion to handle this.
– The tax policies of the Alberta PCs left Alberta $150 billion poorer.
There is more.
– The $67 million Gainer’s fiasco.
– The $110 million metal smelting plant
fiasco.
– Principal Trust.
– NovaTel, which lost in between $600 to
$700 million.
– Alpac/Mitsubishi, which was over $240
million. Ralph Klein used the Heritage
Savings Trust Fund to pay for this.
– Swan Hills, now at $5 billion, and getting
costlier, due to constant annual bailouts.
– Miller West Pulp Mill, which cost $180
million.
– MagCan, which cost $240 million.
– West Edmonton Mall’s secret lawsuit,
involving Ralph Klein, Ken Kowalski, and
others, which cost in between $400
million and $500 million.
– Ambulance amalgamation, which was a
bad move and cost $125 million.
– A.I.S.H, at a cost of $100 million, and
people saw Ralph Klein and his MLAs
ridiculing the disabled on the news.
– Stockwell Day’s very costly lawsuit
costs.
– B.S.E, a failure of around $400 million.
No help for farmers and ranchers, but
help for USA owned meat packing
plants.
– Electricity deregulation, including the
PPA mess, is over $40 billion by now.
– $2 billion on the fallacy of carbon
capture and storage.
– Alison Redford’s Sky Palace.
– Alison Redford’s empty seater plane
trips.
– The Redwater upgrader mess, which has
different costs totalling $35 billion.
– Cellphone roaming charges for an
Alberta PC MLA, totaling $20,000.
– Alison Redford’s lawsuit games,
involving the tobacco industry, that
came to $10 billion, with added costs.
– Hefty lawsuit costs involving the Alberta
PCs, pertaining to deaths of kids in
foster care.
– $1.1 billion, and even more from prior
years, from uncollected corporate taxes.
– A very large infrastructure debt that is at
least $30 to $40 billion.
I don’t think it’s a good thing to do to try and pin this on the NDP.

P>Volk: The UCP are going down the same road as the Alberta PCs did for so long. What the true Conservative, Peter Lougheed, stood for, is wiped out.
– Placing foolish bets on a return to high
oil prices.
– Flying all over the place, at a great cost,
with no positive benefits to Albertans.
– Staying at the most costliest hotels.
– Panels and public forums, which only
give kickbacks to the UCP’s friends, and
any public input is rejected.
– Pricey dead end lawsuits.
– Giving a large number of the UCP’s
conservative chums pork barrel,
patronage positions, for meritless work,
at hefty annual salaries.
– Bulking up UCP MLAs staff, at a hefty
cost.
– Millions of dollars wasted on the War
Room propaganda machine.
– $10 billion is now gone from corporate
tax cuts, with no jobs or investment
gained, like the UCP had promised.
– $7.5 billion lost on a pipeline, from the
UCP assuming Donald Trump would still
be America’s president.
– $16 billion from different assistance
programs, that never were helping
Albertans, and the money was
misappropriated.
– $25 billion had been borrowed, and no
one in Alberta was consulted on the
matter. The UCP kept mum on how they
used this money.
– $4 billion of people’s retirement
(pension) money isn’t there anymore.
– Next to $2 billion of the Heritage
Savings Trust Fund isn’t there anymore.
– $240,000 was wasted on an public ad in
New York City.
– A very large amount of money was
thrown away trying to salvage the
Alberta PCs $35 billion Redwater
Upgrader failure.
– $1.6 billion is gone, due to the UCP
having a lack of accounting skills.
– Steve Allan and his enquiry came to no
actual conclusions, and we paid big
money for this.
The UCP have already given Alberta a debt that is the largest in the history of the province. It’s $125 billion, and is growing substantially. Ask A.I.S.H recipients, students at school, their teachers, those in the medical fields, pensioners, those outside of cities and towns, and even those in cities and towns, how good they think the UCP are. If any of them did support the UCP, they surely now regret it. The UCP also has no respect for democracy. So many fines had been given to those in the UCP because of breaching election related rules. The head of the UCP party, got to his position not in any ethical way. When you continue to support these pretend conservatives and Reformers, this is what you will end up getting. Alberta isn’t any better off, now, or in the future.

You have to wonder if Kenney will let Jean to run for the UCP nomination, given Jean’s past critical statements, the animosity and all the history here. Kenney already has enough critics in his caucus he can’t seem to do anything about, I doubt at this point he wants more.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he can stop Jean. He might still run for the UCP nomination despite Kenney’s preferences, or if not, run as an independent, or run as a candidate for another party. There is no easy way for Kenney to get rid of Jean this time.

David, it’s even better than that. Kenney may have no choice but to allow Jean to run, if he wins the nomination. This according to Graham Thomson, here:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-politics-takes-another-wild-turn-as-brian-jean-re-enters-the-political-arena-1.6238017

It’s just a one-liner, stated as an opinion, and I sure don’t know myself. But if the UCP party constitution doesn’t allow the Leader to bar potential candidates (in keeping with their quaint “grassroots” ideal), then Kenney may be forced to face his old nemesis within his own caucus.

Of course, that depends on how the party rules are written. Anyway, I thought Kenney blew the “grassroots” thing to bits shortly after he won the Kamikaze-campaign election to be party leader. Remember the famous promises printed on Coroplast, and signed in Sharpie ink by Kenney? As soon as they were inconvenient–gone! Will Brian Jean’s nomination be gone, too? Or maybe Kenney himself? (Note to self: buy some popcorn for this show.)

Mike J Danysh: This will be fun to watch from the sidelines. I’d munch away on cheese, crackers, fruit, garlic sausage, canned fish, olives, artichoke hearts, and watch the UCP gong show cause their implosion. It would be like a spectator sport. Hopefully, you can see my other comments.

A lot of people are cheering Mr Jean on to displace Jason Kenney as UCP leader and Premier. But be careful what you wish for. Brian Jean was the last Leader of the more doctrinaire, harder-right, so-con-friendly Wildrose Party, before it was dissolved along with the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta to form the current UCP. Remember Wildrose, formerly the Wildrose Alliance, was formed as a protest party against the PCs, who were seen as “not conservative enough” back in the early 2000s, during Ed Stelmach’s tenure as PC Leader & Premier. Their popularity peaked during the 2012 provincial election, when they became the Official Opposition. But they were a rural-centric party; they lost seats in Calgary, ending up winning only two, & were shut out in Edmonton.

They then went on to self-immolate in 2014 over equality rights for a wide variety of minority groups, including race, religion & SOGI (Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity). December 2014 was the “big rat” floor-crossing of then-Leader Danielle Smith & eight other Wildrose MLAs to the PC caucus, then led by former Calgary MP & Harper government Cabinet Minister Jim Prentice. The Wildrose Party then held a leadership campaign to replace Smith, which Brian Jean won in March, 2015. The election was called in April of that year for May 5th, leading to that surprise NDP victory.

Mr Jean never really made a mark in terms of knowing where he stands on issues, but given that he was elected Leader of what remained of the rump Wildrose Party after that debacle, one can only infer he is more conservative than the former-PC side of the UCP.

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