Two longtime conservative central Albertans are standing up for Jason Kenney.
Former Progressive Conservative MLAs Luke Ouellette (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake) and Mary Anne Jablonski (Red Deer-North) are among 19 former PC and Wildrose MLAs who signed a letter supporting Kenney as UCP leader ahead of this month’s leadership vote. The vote was originally scheduled to take place in person in Red Deer but was moved to a mail-in ballot format after an influx of unexpected membership requests.
Ouellette told the Advocate that he didn’t hesitate to sign the letter.
“I think that Jason has done an excellent job,” Ouellette said.
“He’s done an excellent job bringing new companies to Alberta. He’s done an excellent job of trying to keep our economy running and rebuild our economy. At this point in time right now, there’s not anybody else out there that is a shining star to replace him.”
The letter circulating on social media on Wednesday warned UCP members to think long and hard about what a leadership race, roughly one year before an election, would mean for the party.
“We have been down this road before and we don’t want to go down it again,” the letter said.
“The last time conservatives embarked down this path we went through four leaders in 10 years, eroding Albertans’ confidence in our ability to stay united and put their interests ahead of our own.”
The letter said every government made mistakes during the pandemic.
“But more than any other premier, Premier Kenney balanced protecting hospital capacity with preserving our rights and freedoms. In February, Alberta became the first province to drop its proof of vaccination program.”
Ouelette said it didn’t matter who was in power during the pandemic, there were decisions Kenney had to make.
He said a lot of people bought UCP memberships to vote Kenney out because they have been listening to the “dark side” on social media, but there is also quiet support out there for Kenney.
“Even in my day in politics, people that were happy never ever said anything, and a lot of people who were happy never even bothered going out to vote.”
NDP deputy leader Sarah Hoffman said the letter makes it clear that the UCP is fixated on clinging to power, and not on the many real challenges facing Alberta families and businesses.
“That’s why Albertans can’t trust the UCP,” Hoffman said.
“The UCP is obsessing over internal party dramas, infighting, and election calendars. Rachel Notley and Alberta’s NDP is focused on rebuilding public healthcare and providing real relief from the soaring monthly costs the UCP has imposed on Albertans, including utilities, car insurance, and their billion-dollar income tax grab.”