Alberta’s opposition NDP sends a message Wednesday to government MLAs who may be unhappy with the state of the United Conservative Party: vote with us.
It was an invitation to skip the April 9 leadership vote and go straight to a provincial election, by voting non-confidence Thursday on the budget.
“Eighteen members of the government caucus is all it takes to defeat this budget and show that the legislature has lost confidence in Jason Kenney and his incompetent leadership,” NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi said.
The premier was asked in early March about the possibility of Albertans going to the polls early.
Kenney said he has no plans to change the date of the May 2023 provincial vote, unless he loses a non-confidence vote.
“We live in a Westminster Parliamentary System, so if the government loses the confidence of the legislature, there has to be a dissolution,” the premier said.
Although most polls have shown the NDP leading the UCP for months, a political scientist said Wednesday that Kenney might actually welcome an early vote.
“Anything is possible right now,” said Duane Bratt from Mount Royal University.
Bratt said the premier is in clear danger of losing his job when the leadership review ballots are counted.
“It’s possible that Jason Kenney may allow himself to be beaten on a confidence vote, so he can go to a general election and skip the leadership review,” Bratt said.
‘I ABSOLUTELY SUPPORT JASON KENNEY’
While the legislature was being rocked Wednesday by developments in the leadership review dispute, a number of Kenney’s ministers backed the premier.
“I’ll be supporting the budget, of course,” said UCP minister Demetrios Nicolaides.
“I absolutely support Jason Kenney. He’s the only guy that should be running this province,” said UCP minister Ric McIver.
“I think we need to continue to move forward, and make sure that Rachel Notley and the NDP are not the government in the next year,” said UCP minister Jason Nixon.
A man who was kicked out of the UCP by Kenney was also not eager to see Albertans vote early.
“A non-confidence vote would trigger an election. Many of my constituents, many Albertans are telling me they don’t want an NDP government either,” said independent MLA Drew Barnes.
But Kenney didn’t get praise from everyone in his caucus.
UCP MLA Shane Getson declined to throw his support behind Kenney. He’s also written a Facebook post called “The King is Dead,” in which he encourages people to vote in the review.
“No comment at this point. We’ll have to see how it turns out,” Getson said.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the first talked about unity. Kenney is supportive of changes to the April 9 vote.
“We are encouraged by the widespread interest from UCP members to remain engaged and active in this big-tent convervative movement,” Harrison Fleming wrote.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Chelan Skulski