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Kenney's leadership review kicks off over the weekend

Ballots from the leadership review will be counted on May 18 and the results will be announced once they have been determined, according to the UCP website.

Alberta's United Conservative Party leadership review kicked off on Saturday with a virtual special general meeting during which Premier Jason Kenney said he knows a thing or two about winning elections.

“Because I have won 12, I've never lost one. I'm 12-0,” he said to cheers.

Despite Kenney's confidence, the most recent polls have showed low approval ratings, signalling the premier may be in for a fight.

ThinkHQ released results April 5 from an online survey of 1,135 Albertans from March 29 to April 1.

In response to the question: “Should the UCP keep Kenney as leader?” 63 per cent said the UCP should seek someone new, while 22 per cent of respondents believe the UCP should keep Kenney as leader, and 15 per cent were unsure.

During Saturday's virtual SGM, Kenney spoke about the past, the future, and how he plans to unite the conservative movement and “win a second historic conservative majority government to move this province forward into a new era of prosperity.”

Kenney spoke about split votes and left-wing ideologues “who want to turn Alberta into some kind of socialist lab experiment. And what a failed experiment it was. They raised taxes on everything that moved.”

Finally, Kenney said he would respect the results of the vote, saying, "... if the members decide that they want to choose the path of unity, and stability, of moving forward to the future, rather than arguing over the past, then I believe all of our members will expect every member of our caucus and our team also to respect the decision of the members democratically expressed in this review vote,” he said.

Ballots for the vote are being mailed to eligible UCP members throughout this week and members have until 5 p.m. on May 11 to return ballot envelopes to the auditor for the UCP — detailed instructions about the process are included on the ballot.

Ballots will be counted on May 18 and the results will be announced once they have been determined, according to the UCP website.

Many visitors polled outside The Enjoy Centre in St. Albert on Sunday could not say whether they supported the province’s leader.

Others were happy to voice their discontent, not only with the premier, but with the UCP itself.

Frances Priest, a retired health-care worker who was leaving The Enjoy Centre with a group of friends on Sunday and acted as their spokesperson, said she believes the leadership review will be chaos and split the party again, no matter who gets in.

“The other people will be saying, 'I'm taking my ball and I'm going and starting my own,' as they have done in the past,” Priest said.

Priest said her biggest hope is that this government will go away and someone reasonable will take over, but she is uncertain.

“I don't know who would replace [Kenney]. I don't think there's any better option in that particular party,” she said.

Dr. Garnet Cummings, who was shopping with his wife at The Enjoy Centre on Sunday, said he doesn’t think there is a leadership review because there is no leadership.

“I don't know what they're going to review,” said Cummings.

Cummings said he doesn’t have any hope about where this review will go and if someone such as Brian Jean gets in. “He's a bit of a wild card, too.”

Cummings said he wouldn’t be surprised if Kenney has cooked the deck and said he believes a mail-in vote is unusual.

“My bet is he's cooked the books and he’ll likely get in with a 50-plus-one or something like that, which is a sad day for us,” he said.

Cummings said he thinks Kenney is terrible as the leader of the province, “but as a politician, he's smart. And you know, the goal of all politicians is [to] get re-elected.”

Not everyone disapproves of Kenney, however.

On the April 9 edition of the Saturday morning radio show Your Province. Your Premier, which allows listeners to call or text in and ask Kenney questions, a listener named Tom told Kenney how much he appreciates him.

“I must say how respectful I am of the work you've done and how hard you work for this province. I appreciate it very much,” said Tom.

Another listener from Edson named Gord on the same show thanked the premier.

“You're doing an outstanding job. There's no doubt in my mind you'll be the next premier after this deal.”