Prime Minister Jason Kenney, leader of the UCP, took to the stage at the party’s annual general meeting, held live at Calgary’s Gray Eagle Casino.
“It was a pleasure to see you all again, all of you from all over this wonderful city,” he said. “A few weeks ago, we were still debating whether to hold this event online or in person. We were wondering if enough people would come to meet in person.
“This is an overflowing crowd – this is a sign of the strength of the conservative movement in Alberta.”
Kenney was also quick to acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic could be the toughest challenge the province has faced in its history.
“This crisis has challenged each and every one of us deeply,” he said. “We mourn the lives of those who lost their lives. We regret that COVID has divided our lives, torn loved ones apart, thrown many people into despair and caused so much damage. .”
Some of that damage has also been done to the government, he added.
“Like every government in the world, we have sought to lead through COVID by trail and mistakes, often only faced with bad choices.”
Kenney also admitted his government made a mistake.
“As prime minister, I have to take responsibility for that, but let me tell you, from the bottom of my heart, that our government has always worked to find the right balance. fit.”
QUESTIONS ABOUT KENNEY IS A LEADER
The keynote speech came as several party sources suggested that the UCP was on the verge of collapse.
Although the assessment of Kenney’s leadership will not take place at this weekend’s AGM, political experts say that won’t stop questions from being asked.
Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams said: “Whatever is happening on the stage, whatever is on the agenda will take second place for questions. around the leadership of Jason Kenney.
Reports suggest nearly two dozen voter unions want a leadership review, with some saying the review needs to take place now rather than spring for the situation to be resolved. in one way or another.
“I think it’s really a new leader, or a resounding leadership confirmation – either, and I think we need to put it to bed and move on,” Erhard Poggemiller told Olds-Didsbury. up front,” Erhard Poggemiller told Olds-Didsbury.
“I really hope that we stay together, that we don’t split because I think the worst thing we can do is split like a party.”
In his keynote address, Kenney spoke of concerns some had with him leading the UCP but insisted they could be addressed within the party.
“Let us deal with and deal with those internally, because the public wants to see parties and governments focus not on the internal party business, but on the priorities of the party.” general public.”
GENERAL PARTICIPANTS BRIAN JEAN
Shortly before Kenney took the stage, a potential political opponent was seen accompanying the guests at the conference.
Brian Jean, former leader of the Wildrose Party of Alberta, also attended the event. He echoed comments he made recently about Kenney not being the right person to lead the UCP at the next election.
“I think it’s very clear to most Albertans that we need to have a change in leadership to be competitive in the next election. Right now it’s clear to everyone that Rachel Notley and the NDP are going to be. won an overwhelming majority, and I don’t want to see that happen,” he said.
Earlier this month, Jean announced that he is seeking the UCP nomination for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, which he claims will be a tough test because of “Kenney loyalists.”
He will then need to win an election to replace retired Laila Goodridge at the MLA before he is within firing distance of a potential leadership contest with Kenney.
DOZENS OF PROTESTERS IN VENUE
As Friday night’s events unfolded with Kenney meeting team members, a different sort of gathering took place outside the Gray Eagle Casino.
Dozens of people, believed to be anti-vaccination protesters, forced the site to be locked down, preventing people from entering the building.
The group waved signs speaking out against vaccine mandates mandated by the provincial government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and called for Kenney’s resignation.
Members of the Tsuut’ina Police Department were on hand to keep the peace, and Gray Eagle officials told CTV News in a statement that they were anticipating that kind of activity.
“Management at Gray Eagle Resort and Casino is aware that protesters have attended the UCP General Assembly area,” spokesman Morten Paulsen said by email.
“This is a foreseeable situation and security procedures are in place. Gray Eagle Resort and Casino is working closely with the organizers, and with Tsuut’ina Police.”
(With files from Tyson Fedor)