CALGARY – In a frank keynote address to hundreds of Conservatives United, many of them currently hostile to their leader, Prime Minister Jason Kenney on Saturday offered some repentance and a plea for a quiet resolution for the next several months, time that could pave the path to his eventual expulsion from the party he founded.

Kenney’s weekend speech, who is currently facing internal maneuvering to get rid of it and faces near minimal public approval ratings, was highly anticipated by some 1,500 party delegates who have gathered in Calgary for the general meeting. annual of the UCP.

After walking around to the Bachman-Turner Overdrive song “Takin ‘Care of Business,” Kenney wasted no time addressing the internal division within Conservatives United about his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I know many of you are angry with me and with our government,” he said, acknowledging the public health restrictions his government has imposed, including vaccine passports, that have made him unpopular with part of his party.

He also said that those views were expressed in his own group.

But there was “absolutely no doubt” that without those restrictions, ICUs would have been totally overwhelmed and he would have faced the decision to implement triage protocols.

“The very thought of it filled me with dread,” Kenney said. “I don’t care what the political consequences are, I can’t let that happen.”

At that, he received applause from the crowd. Kenney went on to recite the economic success Alberta is currently experiencing coming out of the pandemic, warning of the danger of a possible NDP government in the future and listing the many laws of his own government that he has passed since 2019.

The crowd was receptive. It received multiple standing ovations and rounds of applause, but it was still a far cry from the booming celebration that was the 2019 annual general meeting held after the PCU won an overwhelming majority in that year’s election.

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Some in the crowd on Saturday did not stand up or applaud Kenney.

Near the end, he called for the party to focus on “the people’s affairs” and to “address and resolve those internal differences internally,” adding that he welcomed the leadership review scheduled for the spring.

“In the end, the members of this party will decide what they want to do,” he said.

Then Kenney left with the song “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty.

It remains to be seen if his speech worked to quell the growing discontent among the crowd.

United Conservative delegates came to town for a weekend of talks, voting on policy proposals, board elections, and wild speculation about what the future of the party holds. Brian Jean, the former Wildrose Party leader and Kenney’s first real contender for leadership, was also in attendance for the weekend.

Jean told reporters after the speech that Kenney has “not made big decisions.”

“I think it has come down to confidence, and it has lost the confidence of the caucus,” he said, adding that he did not believe the speech was effective.

Tany Yao, the Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo UCP MLA, told reporters that he did not “necessarily believe that (Kenney) said all he could” in the speech and estimated that only about 50 percent of the people in the crowd they were still Kenney supporters.

When asked if he still wanted Kenney as prime minister, Yao didn’t answer, just said, “You guys are putting me in such a place, aren’t you?”

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Yao said Kenney kept his speech to a high standard and that he hoped Kenney had shown some “recognition of the reality around him.”

“As a seasoned politician like him, I think you need to acknowledge that there is some discontent and you must address that discontent,” Yao said.

On Friday night, one of the most anticipated moments of the weekend took place in a governance policy proposal debate, seen by some as a small proxy vote on Kenney’s leadership.

The vote was whether the party should raise the threshold, from a quarter to a third, of voters’ associations to make it difficult for them to collectively pass motions that seek to hold special general meetings.

The vote took place right after the exact scenario he was targeting had already occurred.

A quarter, or 22, voters’ associations, just days before the convention, had already passed a motion calling for an early leadership review to take place before March at a special general meeting.

One is already scheduled for April, but the group wants it even earlier.

Some of those constituency associations have criticized the proposal as an attack on the party’s ranks, while those who proposed it from the Edmonton-Northwest constituency said that “a quarter of the CAs should not be able to overthrow a leader. “.

“The bar is too low and opens the party to creating problems by a small minority of CA’s boards of directors,” the proposal reads.

The policy was not approved. He needed 75 percent support, but only 57 percent.

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