The carbon capture tax credit is a divisive issue; mixed opinions on potential benefits

A high-profile critic of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s looming United Conservative Party review says he’s confident most people registered to vote have passed.

Kenney’s UCP caucus member Brian Jean expressed concern last week that many of the estimated 59,000 voters could have been incorrectly added to the lists at the last minute without their knowledge and with their $10 registration. paid for by someone else.

But Jean, in a statement on Friday, said he and other relevant parties had spoken to and seen evidence from the UCP board and were now confident that around 92% of the signatures had enough legitimacy to go. forward.

“This list has issues,” Jean said.

“I believe there are thousands of people on the list who have not paid for their own membership, but I also know that approximately 54,000 of the 58,500 (potential voters) are either long-term members or purchased their membership with their own personal credit. cards.”

He added: “It’s time to let the members vote. I’m confident that if the voting process is fair, Jason Kenney won’t get a survival number from this voters list.

The decision comes a day before voting begins for Kenney’s leadership review. It was a referendum that revealed deep divisions within the party and dissatisfaction with Kenney.

It was to be a one-day in-person vote in Red Deer on Saturday.

But two weeks ago, the UCP board changed it to a province-wide mail-in contest. The council said widespread interest – with 15,000 party members expected to make the trip to vote – made the option of an in-person day impossible.

Opponents of the prime minister, including Jean, said they suspected the change had come at the behest of Kenney’s camp because he had no numbers on his side and needed to broaden the voter base beyond those who wanted or could go to Red Deer.

Jean said he and 11 other UCP members had challenged the change to the party’s arbitration committee and that through this, along with information provided by the party, he had said some of their concerns had been appeased.

“Based on this information and the possibility that a continuation of the arbitral dispute could lead to a delay in the process, Jean and the other members have decided to withdraw their complaint and leave the voters on the current list of members of the UCP decide the matter,” the statement said.

On Saturday, Kenney will deliver a virtual address to members in the morning, and then ballots will be mailed out. Marked ballots must be returned by May 11 and the decision announced on May 18.

Kenney needs to get a majority of voters to ratify the confidence in the work he has done. Otherwise, a leadership race must be triggered.

The prime minister faced lagging popularity numbers and had clashes with party factions, constituency presidents and caucus members over his leadership and COVID-19 policies.

Kenney, in turn, called the leadership’s review a proxy party hijack and his opponents “crazy” who espouse racial and religious hatred and bigotry.

Jean left his UCP seat in 2018 shortly after losing to Kenney in the party’s inaugural leadership race.

Last month, he won a by-election in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche under the UCP banner on a campaign promise to fight to have Kenney removed as leader.

Jean said Kenney’s political failures, along with top-down and tone-deaf management, are alienating grassroots supporters and inviting a 2023 opposition NDP election victory.

Jean was sworn in as a member of the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, leading to speculation over whether he will be allowed to remain in the UCP caucus.

Over the past year, some vocal critics of Kenney have been kicked out of the caucus while others have been allowed to stay.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 8, 2022.

Jessica C. Bell