Backbencher booted from Alberta United Conservative Party caucus in January back in

Backbencher booted from Alberta United Conservative Party caucus in January back in

EDMONTON — A member of the Alberta legislature who was booted from the United Conservative Party caucus for failing to perform his duties has been welcomed back to the fold.

A spokesman for the UCP caucus said Wednesday that Pat Rehn, the member for Lesser Slave Lake, has been working tirelessly to rebuild trust with his constituents since he was kicked out in January by Premier Jason Kenney.

Tim Gerwing said caucus members voted to let Rehn rejoin after receiving letters of support for him from municipalities and the Lesser Slave Lake UCP Constituency Association.

Rehn was kicked out of caucus after municipal leaders complained he was rarely in the constituency, missed meetings or wasn’t prepared for them.

He was also one of a half dozen UCP members of the legislature, including one cabinet minister, who went on international vacations during the pandemic, contrary to public health orders at the time that discouraged travel to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

For the six months that Rehn remained away from caucus, he was still entitled to his salary of more than $120,000 a year.

“The past six months have been eye-opening to me, as I worked to regain the trust and confidence of my constituents,” Rehn said in a release.

“It was clear that I was not living up to expectations in representing Lesser Slave Lake, and for that I am sorry. I am humbled that people are willing to give me a second chance, and I will not let them down.

In a news release, Opposition NDP deputy leader Sarah Hoffman said Kenney welcomed Rehn back into the caucus because he is loyal to the premier.

“As premier, Jason Kenney himself told Albertans that Rehn ‘clearly crossed the line in terms of ethical or legal conduct,’” Hoffman said.

“Pat Rehn was caught vacationing in Mexico while Albertans made great personal sacrifices. He billed taxpayers for months’ worth of expenses for extended stays in Edmonton.

“Today, Jason Kenney has once again shown his inability to lead. After removing Rehn from the UCP caucus and swearing to never let him run for another nomination, Rehn is welcomed back because he’s more loyal to Jason Kenney than the people of Lesser Slave Lake.”