Looks doomed: The well-connected Licia Corbella, columnist for the Calgary Herald, writes Wednesday of behind-the-scenes manoeuvres designed to get Jason Kenney out of the premier’s office, given that health and political crises in his province make his position untenable.
According to government insiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Kenney is beginning to realize that he cannot hold onto his job as premier, but wants to hold off making any political moves that leads to an expedited leadership review for fear of who will gain control of the party he worked so hard to form and lead.
Corbella describes a government struggling to cope with a difficult situation, largely because so many UCP supporters refuse to accept restrictions or vaccine mandates.
Another government source said that ironically, a couple of UCP riding officials are in hospital battling for their lives over COVID-19—a disease that they had denied even existed—though he refused to say who they are. “If they weren’t in hospital fighting for their lives, they’d be calling on Jason to step down for bringing in vaccine passports,” said the source.
Review: Later in the day, CBC reported that Kenney will face a leadership review. A motion challenging his leadership was raised but then dropped at a caucus meeting on Wednesday.
There had been some expectations of a confidence vote. MLA Searle Turton says there was no such vote at the meeting. … “I mean, obviously it’s a brute and bashing group of MLAs, but that’s what caucus is for, having those frank conversations, and I’m thankful that we had that ability,” he said.
In the Herald Wednesday morning, veteran columnist Don Braid described a party in open rebellion, not just from anti-vaxxers but “all sides of Kenney’s party and caucus.”
This wave of opposition to Kenney stems mainly from the epic error of declaring Alberta “Open for Summer”, then standing by while the virus spread, and finally imposing another round of quickly planned measures last week. The delays have crashed the health system. Twenty-nine people died Monday. Alberta is begging Ottawa and other provinces for help. “We in the party hit the end of the line last Wednesday,” says Joel Mullan, policy vice-president of Kenney’s UCP. “We were already right on the edge at the start of September but last Wednesday was it.”
Knives out for O’Toole: Kenney isn’t the only conservative facing a leadership threat. On Wednesday morning, the Hill Times reported that a member of the CPC national council had launched a petition to take out Erin O’Toole. The councillor, Bert Chen, describes O’Toole as a flipflopper. His petition had fewer than 1,500 signatures by Wednesday evening.
No CIMS: On Wednesday afternoon, the Star reported that the party had locked down CIMS, the party database, to stop anyone organizing against the leader. A party spokesman said it was a routine matter, but a CPC MP told the Star it was aimed at shutting down petitions.
“As we speak, our sign teams are out there collecting yard signs that were distributed, and we just lost all of our data,” said one re-elected Conservative MP, speaking to the Star on the condition they not be named. “And the reason they’ve done that is now they’re worried about people being able to verify if those signing petitions against the leader are members (of the party) or not … They want to be the only ones to determine if these petitions are valid.”
China question: In the National Post, Tom Blackwell has an interesting story on a defeated Conservative candidate who wonders if proxies for the Chinese government influenced the election.