EDMONTON — Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner says she will sit out the race to replace Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, characterizing her united Conservative caucus and party as riddled with anger, intrigue and unrelenting division.
Rempel Garner said in a social media post Thursday that he has the will, experience, fundraising and popular support to seriously take on the job, but questioned how he might mend deep divisions as he prepares for provincial elections in the next spring.
“In the hundred-plus conversations I’ve had with people close to the situation over the past week, my key takeaway was that the acrimony that led to Jason’s leadership review is still raw,” Rempel Garner wrote.
“There is a clear division,” he added.
“(There are) those who don’t want the former leadership team retaining any grip on power and those who are part of the former leadership team and want to keep the status quo entirely.
“Neither of these positions is sustainable. The public doesn’t like it either.”
She said: “No one I spoke to felt there was a simple policy vision that could inspire the team enough to easily overcome this divide in a short period of time.”
Rempel Garner, the Calgary Nose Hill MP, announced on Twitter last week that she was seriously considering running for the job, stepping aside as co-chair of Patrick Brown’s federal Conservative leadership campaign.
She said the cornerstone of her decision came earlier this week when it emerged that several members of the United Conservative caucus, some of whom she has long-standing friendships with, fought against being granted a waiver on her card. expired party membership to allow you to run.
“And while the waiver was granted, and I didn’t take any of this seriously, my suspicions about what to expect from the caucus if I became leader were validated,” he wrote.
Rempel Garner said the problems he is seeing in the UCP mirror problems in the federal Conservative Party, which recently went through leaders Andrew Scheer and Erin O’Toole.
“In both parties there have also been squabbles that have broken out in the pages of the national media: public meltdowns, near-lost physical fights, coups, libelous works, leaked recordings and confidential emails, lack of consensus on critical issues, turfings of caucuses, people harassed to the point where they resign, and hours-long meetings where members have been subjected to hours of public punishment,” he wrote.
“In virtually every other workplace, much of what has happened would be treated as a violation of labor codes, but in politics it is considered Human Resources 101.”
Kenney announced last month that he would step down as UCP leader and premier after receiving just 51 percent support in a party leadership review.
The vote followed more than a year of public attacks and criticism within the caucus and Kenney’s party over his performance as leader.
Kenney blamed critics who he said never forgave him for limiting public freedoms to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Others, including caucus members, said he was running an arrogant, exclusionary, top-down, tone-deaf administration that was too deferential to the federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Kenney will step down when a new leader is elected on Oct. 6.
There are eight candidates who have announced they are running, including four former ministers from Kenney’s cabinet.
One of those candidates, former Wildrose party leader Danielle Smith, wrote on Twitter that many of Rempel Garner’s concerns regarding the UCP are valid.
“Unity cannot be an empty phrase demanded by the status quo or a single party leader,” Smith wrote. “It must be earned through a policy that rebuilds trust, especially among our middle class.”
The United Conservative Party was formed in 2017 when the Progressive Conservatives under Jason Kenney and the Wildrose Party joined forces.
Kenney was named the inaugural leader, and the party won a majority government in 2019.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 23, 2022.
Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press