Salem Radio Network News Thursday, August 11, 2022

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Alberta premier to step down as party chief after leadership review

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) -Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said on Wednesday he would step down as leader of the United Conservative Party (UCP) after receiving a only slender majority in a leadership review, with 51.4% of the vote.

The premier of Canada’s main oil-producing province had called the review to stave off a caucus revolt following months of intense criticism of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and uncompromising leadership style.

“While 51% of the vote passes the constitutional threshold of a majority, it clearly is not adequate support to continue on as leader and that is why tonight, I’ve informed the president of the party of my intention to step down as leader of the United Conservative Party,” Kenney told party members.

Kenney, a former federal Conservative minister who came to power in Alberta in 2019, had slumped in public opinion polls over the course of the pandemic.

His approach to tackling COVID-19 upset Albertans who thought the public health measures imposed were too strict, and also those who said the government delayed too long in implementing restrictions and allowed hospitals to be overrun.

Some UCP members also criticised the leadership review process itself. There was a late surge in new party membership applications, and a last-minute switch from an in-person vote in Red Deer, central Alberta, in early April, to a mail-in ballot lasting five weeks.

The UCP’s 2017 leadership race, in which Kenney became leader, is also under active police investigation for possible voter identity theft in the campaign.

In a University of Alberta poll, 45% of respondents said they were “not very” or “not at all” confident of the fairness of the latest leadership review.

(Reporting by Nia Williams and Eric Beech; Editing by Sandra Maler and Kenneth Maxwell)

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