By Sean Amato, CTV Edmonton | FULL STORY
An effort to drive Alberta's premier out of office is gaining steam ahead of a United Conservative Party leadership vote next month, and some of the people stoking that fire are well known to their target.
"Most of the people that are signing up to vote against Jason Kenney are people who used to work for him, like myself," said David Parker.
Parker was an organizer on Kenney's campaign in 2017. He is now building support to vote out the UCP leader as executive director of Take Back Alberta.
"(Kenney) is not trusted by anyone in this province, whether you're left or right. And I don't think we should continue having a leader that Albertans can't trust," he argued.
Kenney has formed a team, led by his chief of staff who has stepped back from that role, to try to fight off the challenge that Parker and others are bringing.
The premier has said that he's up against extremists, including some convoy protesters, who will vote against him out of anger about COVID-19 rules.
"There are people with extreme views, who we screened out as candidates in the last election, who are angry about that," Kenney said Wednesday.
"I think the broad mainstream of Albertan conservatives want us to continue in getting the job done, keeping our commitments, building a strong province and being focused on a strong Alberta economy."
'WE KNOW JASON KENNEY CHEATS'
Parker said the people he's organizing with "feel betrayed" by Kenney, and at least two sitting UCP MLAs, Dave Hanson and Angela Pitt, have attended his events.
"If these are extremists, these extremists helped get him in. So, he can insult people and pull a Justin Trudeau and call people names, but the truth of the matter is the problem is him," Parker argued.
Take Back Alberta is holding events in community halls, basements and quonsets, Parker said, with some gatherings attracting 300 people.
Vitor Marciano, who is working on Brian Jean's campaign, has also attended some of those events. But he said Take Back Alberta "isn’t a Brian Jean organization," and Parker stated the same.
Parker called Kenney a "formidable opponent," although he worries the premier will play dirty politics.
"We know Jason Kenney cheats. He's under RCMP investigation right now for cheating," he said of an ongoing police probe into the premier's victory in the 2017 UCP leadership race.
The leadership review vote is scheduled to take place in Red Deer on April 9.
Jean has also confirmed to CTV News Edmonton that he is asking his supporters, some of them UCP MLAs, to campaign for votes against Kenney.
"I don't think I ever remember a government where the caucus was so disunited. Jason Kenney has been under duress for a long time, both with his base and with his MLAs," said Janet Brown, a pollster and political commentator based in Calgary.
Brown expects the vote to be tight, and noted the premier has been trying to lower the bar for what an acceptable approval rating is.
Former conservative leaders Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford both received 77 per cent approval shortly before they each stepped down, but Kenney has claimed that "50 per cent plus one" is good enough for him.
"These leadership reviews are really not about getting 50 per cent of the vote. They're about a leader being able to demonstrate that he has significant support," Brown said.
Jean will run for the UCP in a byelection on March 15, as part of an attempt to replace Kenney as UCP leader.
Do you like this page?