Interesting times for Jason Kenney: Premier’s loyalists fail to defang rebel constituency associations
The motion that would have quickly solved Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s most pressing political problem failed to pass last night at the United Conservative Party’s annual general meeting near Calgary.
The constitutional amendment proposed by the Edmonton-North West UCP constituency association, which is headed by Premier Kenney’s communications manager, would have raised the number of constituency associations required to demand a quick leadership review from 22 to 29.
The problem with the present situation from Mr. Kenney’s perspective is that 22 rebellious constituency association boards have already voted to require an early review.
It wasn’t that the nays had it. The constitutional amendment received the support of 57 per cent of the UCP members voting on the resolution.
Alas for the premier, the UCP constitution requires a 75-per-cent supermajority for constitutional change.
That’s a high bar – too high even for a master manipulator like Premier Kenney, it turned out last night.
While this certainly won’t be the end of Mr. Kenney, it raises the tantalizing possibility, suggested by veteran political columnist Graham Thomson yesterday, that it may offer a glimpse of the beginning of the end.
We’ll see what happens. Mr. Kenney already faces a leadership review in April, so moving it ahead by a few weeks may not make it much more than an inconvenience. Or he may yet find another way to derail his foes’ effort.
In the meantime, according to reports coming from the convention floor at the Grey Eagle Casino on the Tsuut’ina Nation adjacent to the city of Calgary, George Clark of the Calgary-East UCP constituency association was on his feet supporting Mr. Kenney, arguing 22 seats was just too low a threshold.
Can this be the same George Clark who promised in 2016 the NDP government could be toppled with a snap of the fingers by a visit to the Queen in London, a bloodless #Kudatah?
If so, that wasn’t necessarily the only irony of the AGM’s first night. The CBC reported that a group of anti-vaccine protestors calling for the premier’s head – once the kind of people whose support he would have courted – blocked the doors for a spell, preventing some delegates from making it into the hall in time for the debate on the constitutional resolution.
We await developments.