Despite recent polls calling her a frontrunner, Calgary Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel Garner will not run to be the next leader of the United Conservative Party.
in to statement posted Thursday morningRempel Garner says she strongly considered running for leader, but “given everything, I think Albertans would be better served if right now I stayed in the important role they’ve already given to me.
“This has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make,” Rempel Garner said. “I will wonder about it for a long time. But I’m self aware enough to know it’s the right choice.”
According to a Counsel Public Affairs poll released June 11, Rempel Garner had a +36 per cent approval rating from UCP members – the highest among potential leadership candidates by a wide margin. Danielle Smith and Travis Toews trailed behind. The poll was conducted between June 8 and 11, and 788 Albertans were surveyed, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 19 times out of 20.
“A poll released yesterday says I’m the front runner and could seriously challenge the NDP in next year’s general election,” Rempel Garner said. “I’m blown away.”
Rempel Garner says she got close enough to running that she was doing “final preparations to launch her campaign” Wednesday, but upon reflection, she was too concerned about internal fighting within the UCP.
“There have been heated exchanges to get basic concerns addressed, unjustified insularity in decision making, shunnings, exclusionary cliques and more,” she says. “This is all a matter of public record and it is not exaggerated. The pandemic made all of this worse, but this stuff predates COVID.”
Due to rules for candidates set out by the UCP executive, Rempel Garner had to apply for special permission to run, because she was not an active member of the party six months prior to potentially registering as a candidate. She was granted permission, but says she was struck by reaction to her request for her from many senior members of the party, who “participated in an attempt to scuttle something minor that the rules allowed for.”
“And while the waiver was granted, and I didn’t take any of this stuff to heart, my suspicions about what I’d be in for from caucus if I became leader were validated,” she said.
Rempel Garner did not throw her support behind one of the other candidates. So far, there are eight confirmed candidates. The new leader will be elected on Oct. 6.
The 42-year-old MP, who has served in Ottawa since 2011, says she plans to run again in 2025 for the Conservative Party of Canada.