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Support for Kenney dwindling amongst Albertans ahead of UCP Leadership Review: survey


Members of Alberta’s United Conservative Party are casting ballots on April 9 to determine the future of Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership, but a new poll suggests he would be out of a job if all Albertans were given the chance to vote.

The latest survey numbers from ThinkHQ suggest a substantial majority (61 per cent) of Albertans think the UCP should seek a new leader before the next provincial election. 

Of the 1,136 Albertans polled from Feb. 22-25, only 20 per cent felt Kenney should stay on as leader of the party and 19 per cent stated they were unsure.

The results have shifted only slightly since the last poll in December of 2021, when 64 per cent said the UCP should find a new leader.

“That leadership vote is really going to depend on who is in the room, but if the average voter in Alberta was deciding this, there wouldn’t be a lot of speculation,” said ThinkHQ president Marc Henry.

“A lot of it is residual from the pandemic because there seemed to be a lot of backward and forward, 'I'm in favor of restrictions, I'm not in favor of restrictions.'  It was just a very confusing management of the pandemic."

Henry adds that among those polled who voted UCP in the last provincial election, 59 per cent say Kenney should be removed as leader of the party.

Even those who still plan to vote for the UCP want Kenney gone (41 per cent) as opposed to 37 per cent who feel he should stay. 

“If I was Jason Kenney, I'd be walking in that room on April 9 with two different speeches,” Henry said.

Of those polled who are current UCP members, 54 per cent stated they would like a new leader.

Approximately 65 per cent of people who have ever been a member of the UCP would also like Kenney to go. 

The poll also saw a strong request for Kenney to be removed from those planning to vote for the Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta as 85 per cent want a new UCP leader.  

The margin of error of a comparable probability-based random sample of this size is +/- 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. 


Political analysts suggest Kenney’s decline in support has a lot to do with his management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lisa Young, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary, says the premier has suffered criticism from both sides of the political spectrum throughout the entire pandemic. 

“There are also those who are UCP supporters or even supporters of parties further to the right, who felt that the pandemic response was too much, that we shouldn't have had vaccine mandates, that we shouldn't have had mask mandates,” Young said. 

“It’s very difficult to be a different person in the space of three or four weeks now, so I don't think that's an option for Kenney. I think what we do see is an attempt to turn his political fortunes, by using the remarkable financial windfall that the province has with oil prices going up." 

Lori Williams, a political analyst at Mount Royal University, notes Kenney’s chances of regaining support are small, adding many of his party members are losing faith. 

“Some of it was because of this rift that seems to have grown between the inner circle of the party, or the leadership and the rank and file,” Williams said.

“Whether it be MLAs or constituents making demands of their MLAs just seems to be a disconnect that's happened increasingly between them, and there's also been a lot of anger because people have been frustrated.”

Williams adds Kenney’s latest budget also failed to address support for average Albertans struggling to pay high energy bills.

"He could have easily put that in his budget, a provision for people who are struggling with high utility bills because we knew that people were suffering, we knew that there was a surplus in the budget," said Williams

“I was surprised that he didn't address that, especially since the opposition was directly calling on the government to do that, but instead they say they’re going to do something about it in the future."

Kenney has attempted to respond more directly to Albertans this week with the removal of a 13 cent per litre gas tax kicking in April 1, along with an announcement of a weekly question-and-answer radio show.


While some UCP members may be dissatisfied with Kenney’s leadership, it could prove to be a harmful election tactic to remove him, according to some political experts.

U of C political analyst Dr. Melanee Thomas argues Kenney still has a solid chance to keep his job.

"Removing a leader here is likely trying to improve election chances for the UCP in 2023, but it feels very old-school PC with Stelmach and Redford, so it's fair to ask, what's the point?

"Good governance for Alberta or a perceived entitlement to power? For me, this type of process often feels like the latter." 

Thomas adds that the lowest 'get a new leader' ratings in this ThinkHQ poll also came from decided UCP voters.

"Given this, I think there’s a good chance Kenney could win the leadership review, provided he’s organized enough to get the votes,” she said.

Meanwhile, others argue that Jason Kenney has little to no chance of winning back his party’s approval unless he calls a last-ditch snap election.

“I think he’s going to exercise a nuclear option and call a snap election because if he’s going to go down, he’ll take the party down with him,” said Dr. Doreen Barrie with the U of C Department of Political Science 

“It’s the pandemic that’s losing it for him, he didn’t exercise leadership, he sort of dilly-dallied, he desperately wanted to open up the economy so that things would get better and that’s why his party was so divided.”

The UCP Leadership Review will take place on April 9 in Red Deer.

BELOW: ThinkHQ's Eye on Alberta for March 2022

Eye on Alberta - Alberta's public affairs monitor - March 2022 by Anonymous NbMQ9Ymq on Scribd Top Stories

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