Alberta Premier Jason Kenney resigned from his position as United Conservative Party (UCP) leader on Wednesday after getting 51.4% approval from UCP members.
The decision was made after Kenney got 51.4% of support in his leadership review vote. Although the votes were enough for him to stay as the party leader, he stated that it wasn’t the adequate support to continue.
Members of the UCP had to answer the question “Do you approve of the current leader?” with a simple “yes” or “no”. Among the 34,298 party members, 17,638 were yes votes and 16,660 were no votes.
“The result is not what I hoped for or frankly what I expected,” Kenney said to supporters and volunteers in Calgary after the results were announced.
“While 51% of the vote passes the constitutional threshold of a majority, it clearly is not adequate support to continue on as leader.”
Kenney stated in his brief statement that he informed party president Cynthia Moore of his decision to resign and requested that the party hold a leadership election as soon as possible.
The decision follows months of political instability inside the United Conservative Party, which was established in 2017 after the Wildrose Party united with the Progressive Conservative Party.
Kenney has had low polling ratings in most public polls over the last 18 months, indicating that the NDP could reclaim a majority government next year. To avoid this, many within the UCP believe the party needs to choose a new leader.
Kenney believes the negative vote was motivated by Albertans who opposed public health regulations established by his government to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as masking and vaccine passports.
After the decision was announced, politicians reacted quickly to the move.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed gratitude to Kenney for his work.
“Through the challenges of the past two years and decades of public service, you’ve been a voice for Alberta and Albertans, and I wish you all the best in the years ahead,” he tweeted Wednesday night.
“Obviously I want to recognize that Jason Kenney served his community, served his provinces, his country for many, many years. I wish him the very best in whatever next steps he takes on,” Trudeau said on Thursday morning in Ottawa.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said, “Thank you to my friend Premier Jason Kenney for everything you have done to unite Alberta conservative voters into a new party, defeat a destructive NDP government and lead Alberta through a very challenging time.”
Justin Brattinga, Jason Kenney’s press secretary, stated that Kenney will remain as party leader until an interim leader is chosen. A caucus meeting is scheduled for Thursday at the McDougall Centre in Calgary.