The United Conservative Party’s Annual General Meeting was held from November 19-21 at the Grey Eagle Casino in Calgary. There were no real surprises.
Numbers dwindled slightly for attendance at the UCP’s recent AGM, both for the conference as well as the policy voting, since the first AGM was held in 2018 – even with what was rumoured to be free tickets up for grabs thanks to a generous political action committee (PAC).
The party reported around 1500 (or 1600) attendees this year, less than half of whom (around 670) showed up to vote for policy.
Of those who did vote in the more contentious policy debates, like whether the party should increase the number of constituency association required to push policy.
The the party faithful are still divided on some major decisions but that can be expected when the outcome is all or nothing.
The other expectation was that support would generally exist for Kenney – but the lower numbers tell us something else is going on: people don’t feel like it’s worth showing up.
Despite consistent polling that shows the overwhelming majority of Albertans are offering little support for Kenney – and, by extension, the UCP – around 380 people are happy with his leadership and therefore he will remain Premier,,, at least for now.
In April 2022, 380 people could decide that he should not remain Premier, and then only people who bother to be members – and can afford to pay to attend a conference where they will cast a vote – will decide who will be the next Premier of Alberta.
This is how things have always been.
Don Getty became Premier after winning the PC Party leadership. His “leadership was endorsed by a win in the 1986 general election“.
Ralph Klein won the leadership of the PC Party in 1992 and “led the party into the 1993 election“.
Alison Redford was elected PC Party leader after Klein “and became the first female premier of Alberta“. Redford stood by and watched Danielle Smith tank her own ambitions for Premier in 2012 and was – for all intents and purposes – “endorsed” by the electorate later that year.
Deputy Premier Dave Hancock “was selected as Premier and interim party leader by the PC caucus on March 20, 2014… Jim Prentice was elected as the permanent leader of the PC Party on September 6, 2014 and succeeded Hancock as premier on September 15, 2014,” without any consideration from the once-every-four-years voter.
I don’t need to point out that it was PC members – and only PC members – who made these decisions, do I?
The fact of the matter is that if the UCP decides Jason Kenney should no longer be premier, the UCP will also decide who becomes the next premier – even if that privilege doesn’t extend beyond 2023.
Our leadership is determined by a small segment of the population who buys memberships and a smaller segment who can afford the $350 convention access fee, hotel, meals, childcare, etc.
So, if you are an Albertan who is concerned about the leadership of this province, and if you want a say in who becomes the next leader of this province; there is only one way to do it: buy a UCP membership and start saving now so you might be able to show up and vote.
Our system is “pay for play”.
Kenney said he was “more confident” in his leadership after having his back slapped by 60 per cent of the people who showed up in 2018.
But if Kenney doesn’t get an actual win soon, it’ll be “shunned and stunned” for the province’s natural governing party… again.
This post contains opinion.
Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a political podcaster and benevolent sunshine on the snowflakes.
Connect: @Mitchell_AB for more, and @politicalRnD for less “bias”.
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