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Kenney proud of accomplishments, suggests he will stay as MLA

Premier Jason Kenney, speaking a day ahead of the UCP leadership vote, said he is uncertain of his political future, but is proud of what he's done for Alberta.

Kenney made his address from downtown Calgary speaking about an investment in Alberta's provincial parks on Wednesday, suggesting that while he will no longer be leader, he wants to stay on as MLA for the time being.

"It's been a privilege of a lifetime to be able to serve Calgarians and Albertans," Kenney said of his time in office.

"I will be finishing my time in public service with a heart full of gratitude and with no fundamental regrets."

Pollster and political commentator Janet Brown says Kenney staying on as MLA is probably his last order of business for the UCP.

“It probably makes sense he stays on as MLA for a little while, but certainly not run in the next election, because it's just too hard to be in a party when you've had the top job,” she said.

Kenney added that some of his budget cut decisions were probably not what Albertans were looking for from his government, but he stands by them, saying they helped put Alberta back on track financially.

"We have implemented 93 per cent of the 375 platform commitments we gave Albertans in the last election despite three once-in-a-century crises," he said.

"Despite those headwinds and a hostile government in Ottawa, we helped to usher in an Alberta economic renaissance, unprecedented diversification, country-leading growth (and) more people working before in our province in our history."

However, Kenney said he should have acted sooner once cracks began to form in the UCP caucus over the province's COVID-19 response.

"I had probably a naïve approach to caucus relations – surprisingly naïve given my 25 years in public life," he said. "Perhaps I should have been a lot more like Stephen Harper or the recently re-elected Doug Ford or Scott Moe – the more typical Canadian approach.

"What I've come to the conclusion of is this – the public is not interested in a lot of internal party or caucus drama playing out, people just want competent, focused government."

Kenney also brought up the example of Ford's approach of removing six members of his caucus when problems were discovered.

"I look at that versus what happened here and I wonder if we owed Albertans a greater degree of discipline and coherence."

He remains hopeful that whoever is chosen as the new leader of the UCP – and Alberta's next premier – will focus on all the issues facing regular Albertans instead of "becoming an ideological debating society focused on marginal issues."

Kenney served three years as Alberta's premier – the 18th person to hold the position.

Brown says it was a different Kenney than Albertans are used to, admitting to mistakes made around how he dealt with party infighting.

“He's probably characterizing it as he was too tolerant and too nice (but) others would maybe not come to the same conclusion," said Brown.

You can watch live coverage of the UCP leadership vote from Calgary's BMO Centre on TV and online starting at 6 p.m. on Oct. 6.

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