A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United Conservative Party members who were kicked out of caucus.
Backbencher Todd Loewen, Central Peace-Notley MLA, was ejected Thursday night after publicly announcing earlier in the day the party is adrift and out of touch under Premier Jason Kenney and that the premier must quit before things spiral further.
Backbencher Drew Barnes, Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA, had been the most vocal critic of the government’s COVID-19 health restrictions, saying they are of questionable effect and an intolerable infringement on personal freedoms. He was also voted out.
Kenney said he kept his distance in a debate over the fate of the two outspoken backbenchers, but believes his UCP caucus made the right decision to expel them.
Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr took to social media to comment on the situation Friday morning.
“I am sorry to see two members of caucus voted out but I will not work for, or support, efforts to destroy the party or the leader from within,” Orr said in a Facebook post.
“I will speak to party policy but will not divide what we worked so hard to unite.”
Orr said he will continue to try and help people suffering under COVID-19 “and those who suffer under restrictions.”
“Where I can help I will,” he said.
“The costs are high whether from COVID or restrictions. We need to help each other rather than destroy each other.”
In a Facebook post, Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan said he is grateful for “the opportunity” to meet and befriend both Loewen and Barnes.
“Todd was elected by his colleagues as caucus chair. Even though he was the chair, he was humble. He sought to go the extra mile, cooking breakfasts in the early morning, and suppers late at night for his colleagues, supporting them in kindness. He is a servant leader,” said Stephan.
“I admire Drew’s courage to stand by his convictions, his experiences and insights.”
Stephan said he looks forward to “continuing to serve with them.”
Last month, Orr and Stephan were among 17 MLAs, including Loewen and Barnes, to sign a joint statement condemning a return to stricter health restrictions.
–With files from The Canadian Press