Skip to main content

'Sign of the strength': Kenney talks about future of the Alberta UCP


Premier Jason Kenney, leader of the UCP, took the stage at the party's annual general meeting, which is being held in-person at Calgary's Grey Eagle Casino.

"It is so great to see you folks, all of you friends from across this great province," he said. "We were still debating a few weeks ago whether to hold this online or in-person. We were wondering if enough people would come in-person.

"This is an overflow crowd – this is a sign of the strength of Alberta's conservative movement."

Kenney was also quick to acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic as likely the toughest challenge the province has faced in its history.

"This crisis challenged each and everyone of us deeply," he said. "We mourn the lives of those that have been lost. We regret how COVID dislocated our lives, separated loved ones, threw many into despair and caused so much incalculable damage."

Some of that damage was inflicted on the government as well, he added.

"Like every government in the world, we've sought to lead through COVID by trail and error, often faced with only bad choices."

Kenney also admitted his government made mistakes.

"As premier, I must take responsibility for that, but let me tell you, from the bottom of my heart, that our government has always strived to find the right balance."


The keynote address comes as a number of sources inside the party suggest the UCP is on the verge of collapse.

While a review of Kenney's leadership won't take place at this weekend's AGM, political experts say that won't stop questions from being asked.

"Whatever is happening on the stage, whatever is happening on the agenda is going to take second place to questions surrounding Jason Kenney's leadership," said Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams.

Reports suggest nearly two dozen constituency associations want a leadership review, with some saying the review needs to happen now instead of in the spring so that the situation can be resolved one way or another.

"I think that really is a new leader, or a resounding leadership confirmation – one of the two, and I think we need to put it to bed and move ahead," said Erhard Poggemiller with 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 as a party."

In his keynote speech, Kenney spoke about the concerns that some have with him at the helm of the UCP but insists they can be dealt with inside the party.

"Let us address and resolve those internal issues internally, because the public wants to see parties and government focused not on internal party business, but on the public's priorities."


A short time before Kenney took the stage, a potential political rival was seen mingling with guests at the convention.

Brian Jean, former leader of Alberta's Wildrose Party, attended the event as well. He echoed the comments he's recently made about Kenney not being the right man to lead the UCP into 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 clearly appears to everybody that Rachel Notley and the NDP are going to win an overwhelming majority, and I don’t want to see that happen," he said.

Earlier this month, Jean made the announcement that he was seeking the UCP nomination for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, something he's claimed will be a tough challenge because of "Kenney loyalists."

He would then need to win a byelection to replace outgoing MLA Laila Goodridge before he's within shooting distance of a potential leadership showdown with Kenney.


As Friday evening's events took place with Kenney meeting party members, a gathering of a different sort took place outside the Grey Eagle Casino.

Dozens of people, believed to be anti-vaccine demonstrators, forced the venue into a state of lockdown, preventing everyone from entering or exiting the building.

The group waved signs speaking out against vaccine mandates set by the provincial government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and calling for Kenney's resignation.

Members of the Tsuut'ina Police Service were on hand to keep the peace and Grey Eagle officials told CTV News in a statement that they had been anticipating that sort of activity.

"Management at the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino are aware that protesters did attend the area of the UCP AGM," said spokesperson Morten Paulsen via email.

"This was one contingency that was anticipated and security protocols are in place. The Grey Eagle Resort and Casino is working closely with organizers, and with Tsuut’ina Police."

(With files from Tyson Fedor) Top Stories


LIVE NOW Canada to launch 'national action plan' to fight auto theft

The federal government is launching what it calls its 'national action plan' to combat auto thefts, which will include stronger penalties for thieves, and increased information sharing between police agencies, government officials and border enforcement.

Stay Connected