A high-profile critic of the United Conservative Party’s review of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he is satisfied with the majority of those registered to pass the ballot.
Brian Jean, a member of Kenny’s UCP caucus, expressed concern last week that many of the estimated 59,000 voters were wrongly added to rolls at the last minute without their knowledge and that their $10 registrations would be paid to someone else. was did.
But Jean said in a statement Friday that he and other relevant parties have spoken to the UCP board and seen the evidence and now believe that about 92 percent of the signatures have enough validity to proceed.
“There are issues on this list,” Jean said.
“I believe there are thousands of people on the list who have not paid for their membership, but I also know that out of the 58,500 (potential voters), about 54,000 are either long-time members or have not paid for their membership. Purchased your membership with personal credit cards.”
He added: “It is time for the members to vote. I believe that Jason Kenny will not get a living number from this list of voters if the voting process is fair.
The decision comes a day before voting begins to review Kenny’s leadership. It is a referendum that has exposed deep rifts in the party and dissatisfaction with Kenny.
There was to be a one-day in-person vote at Red Deer on Saturday.
But two weeks ago, the UCP board turned it into a provincewide mail-in competition. The board said widespread interest – with 15,000 party members expected to travel to cast a ballot – made the one-day individual choice impossible.
Opponents of the premier, including Jean, said they suspected the change came at the behest of Kenny’s camp because they didn’t have the numbers and needed to expand a voter base beyond those willing or able to visit Red Deer.
Jean said he and 11 other members of the UCP challenged the change in the party’s arbitration committee and through it with information provided by the party that some of their concerns had been addressed.
“Based on this information, and the possibility that the arbitration dispute may continue to delay the process, Jean and the other members have decided to withdraw their complaint and let voters on the current UCP membership list decide the matter.” ,” What was said. statement.
On Saturday, Kenny will give a virtual speech to members in the morning, then the ballots will be mailed. Marked ballots must be returned by May 11 and the decision should be announced on May 18.
Kenny needs to get a majority to reaffirm confidence in the work he has done. If not, a race for leadership should be called.
The premier is facing a lack of popularity and has clashed with party factions, constituency presidents and caucus members over his leadership and COVID-19 policies.
In return, Kenny has called the leadership review a proxy party hijacking and his opponents “crazy” who support hatred and racial and religious bigotry.
Jean left her UCP seat in 2018 shortly after losing to Kenny in the party’s inaugural leadership race.
Last month, he won a by-election at Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche under the UCP banner on a campaign pledge to fight to oust Kenny as leader.
Jean has said that Kenny’s policy failures with tone-deaf, top-down management are alienating grassroots supporters and inviting opposition NDP election victory in 2023.
Jean was sworn in as a legislature member on Thursday, prompting speculation whether she would be allowed to remain on the UCP caucus.
Over the past year, some tough Kenny critics have been kicked out of the caucus while others have been let in.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 8, 2022.