Jason Kenney of Alberta suppressed a caucus resistance.But he was injured in the process

This column comes from the opinion of Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary.For more information CBS opinion column, See FAQ.

Thursday is another wild day in Alberta politics. Soon after midnight, Todd Loewen, chairman of the United Conservative Caucus, issued a stern letter of resignation to the remaining caucus and posted it on Facebook.

Lowen’s Letter A series of complaints were filed against some of the policies of Prime Minister Jason Kenney and his leadership style. It argues that the UCP (the result of the merger of the old Progressive Conservative Party and the Wildrose Party) was formed around “common principles, integrity and common-sense governance” rather than “blind loyalty to one person.” Finally, he asked Kenny to resign as prime minister.

The UCP regular core group meeting originally scheduled for Thursday morning was cancelled the day before. However, the emergency team meeting was quickly scheduled for later that day, Loewen and Drew Barnes (another Kenny critic within the UCP team) were expelled from the party.

The meeting time (seven hours) is a fact of a secret meeting broadcast live by Western Standard (an online media organization founded by Derek Fildebrandt of the former MLA at Wildrose). Who is blocked from joining UCP), the absence of a secret ballot and the failure to publish the results, which strongly proves that the decision to expel Loewen and Barnes is quite controversial.

The number of other UCP MLAs that lack confidence in Kenny is unknown. In the days to come, some of them may voluntarily withdraw from the core group and become independents.

Alberta’s multi-party MP Todd Loewen left, and Drew Barnes was expelled from the UCP caucus on allegations that they split the party and undermined the leadership of the government. (Government of Alberta)

Even if Kenny (at least temporarily) quelled the uprising in the caucus, he was still seriously injured by the process.

Not only does he need to use political capital to suppress the rebellion, but he must also spend a day on solving UCP internal political issues during a health pandemic, where Alberta is the most affected province in the country.

Since April 2019, Thursday has been an incredible failure, when Kenny (he often boasted) won “the biggest democratic mission in Alberta history.”

So, what went wrong? Why did the architect Jason Kenney, the architect of the UCP, have to face the core protests of the party he founded?

There are three interrelated reasons: COVID-19 restrictions; deletion of poll numbers; and structural fault lines in Alberta’s conservative movement.

COVID restrictions play a role

Regarding COVID-19 restrictions, Kenny often portrays himself as a person trapped between those who want to implement stricter restrictions faster and those who strongly oppose the restrictions. However, this description is incorrect.

Most Albertans seek stricter restrictions, but the few who reject them are part of them. UCP base.

Although Loewen’s letter did not mention COVID-19, he was one of the 16 rural backseat UCP MLAs and they signed a copy Open letter in early April 2021 In other words, “after 13 months of arduous COVID-19 public health restrictions, we do not support other restrictions imposed on Alberta.”

COVID-19 has revealed certain rifts within UCP, especially the urban-rural divide.

Janet Brown as a pollster Recorded For the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Kenny’s poll numbers have fallen for two consecutive years.

As shown in the figure below, if elections are held today, Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party will form a majority government.

You don’t see a caucus uprising against a popular prime minister. Conversely, this happens when an unpopular prime minister may cause you to lose your seat. This is the fate of the former Alberta PC prime ministers Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford, who were eliminated by the group meeting due to low poll numbers.

It is also obvious that the conservatives in Alberta may be unruly.

As I wrote with my colleague Bruce Foster in the past, History of the Conservative Party in Alberta (Federal and provincial) Split and merge.

UCP currently contains many fault lines: previous party relations (PC and Wildrose), ideology (center right and extreme right), conservatism (economic conservatives and social conservatives), geography (rural versus urban), government (cabinet) Relative to internal affairs) back seat) and structure (the prime minister’s political personnel and the elected judicial assistance). These differences often overlap and exacerbate tensions within the party.

Kenny successfully quelled the resistance of the core group. It is also possible to eliminate the two dissatisfaction and send a strong message to other MLAs that he will no longer tolerate his leadership, which will stop internal dissatisfaction.

However, before controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, he improved the polls and eased the rift within UCP, and Kenny will remain vulnerable to further core group uprisings.

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