The executive board of Alberta’s United Conservative Party said it will hold a leadership review next year, according to an email sent Friday night to party constituency presidents.
“We reviewed the advice, and passed a resolution that a leadership review is to be held at our AGM in 2022,” the email from UCP President Ryan Becker read.
CBC News obtained a copy of the email.
The email explained that during the last annual general meeting in October, members identified there were no rules in place for leadership reviews. In 2020, party members then passed a resolution to hold regular reviews of the party leader at one out of every three AGMs, but a process to finalize the details was yet to be set out.
“As a board, we spent the past few months receiving legal advice and consulting with our [constituency associations] and members regarding our responsibility for when a leadership review needs to be held,” the email said. It then announced the plan for a review in 2022.
“We believe this keeps us fully compliant with our bylaws, and strengthens membership engagement with our party,” the email said.
The note ended with praise for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the collapse of oil prices.
“We have a clear path to brighter days just around the corner and I’m confident in the vision Jason has laid out to us to get there,” it said.
Timing around review
Questions about Kenney’s leadership have swirled in recent weeks, with several constituency presidents saying their boards were upset enough that they talked about forcing a leadership review.
Despite a few vocal board members, the majority of constituency presidents said it was the wrong timing for a leadership review. They cited concerns about the pandemic, a lack of an obvious successor to Kenney and a quickening timeline to the next election, which is scheduled for spring 2023.
Under a UCP resolution passed in October, a review cannot be held in an election year. The party executive could also vote to hold a review at any time. Or, if enough constituency associations banded together, they could vote to review the premier’s leadership.
Kenney has not been subjected to a leadership review since taking the helm of the party in 2017. In the event of a vote, he would need at least 50 per cent to remain leader — although many Alberta conservative leaders have placed the vote threshold much higher.
Amid the discontent, Kenney has held more frequent meetings and calls with the grassroots members of the party across the province.
His approval rating currently sits at 39 per cent according to a recent poll from the Angus Reid Institute, declining steadily since the 2019 election.