Kenney's Out - But Who Will Succeed Him?
Kenney secured the support of just 51.4 per cent of members. Despite previously saying 50 per cent plus one would be enough to claim victory, he announced his resignation soon after. Now the question is: who will follow in his stead?
The Edmonton Journal listed multiple candidates, starting with Brian Jean.
"Brian Jean was bested the last time he and Jason Kenney went head-to-head, in the 2017 UCP leadership race. Jean had returned to Alberta after a stint as a Conservative MP, and took over a Wildrose Party smarting from the attempted merger of the PCs and Wildrose under then-premier Jim Prentice. The mass defection, led by Danielle Smith (see below), caused a rift in the right-wing party, but not all of the MLAs crossed the floor.
Jean took on the leadership and led the Wildrose to official Opposition status. When the PCs and Wildrose merged into the UCP, Jean attempted to lead the new party, but was unsuccessful. He stepped back from provincial politics until early 2022, when he ran for an open seat in Fort McMurray, running on a platform of seeking to remove Kenney as leader," the Journal noted.
Danielle Smith was also noted. "Smith would come to the race with a lot of name recognition, both positive and negative. The longtime broadcaster previously served as leader of the Wildrose Party (now rolled into the UCP umbrella) and official Opposition from 2012-2014.
Controversially, she orchestrated a mass floor-crossing with Prentice in an attempt to unite the right. However, not all of the Wildrose MLAs followed, and Smith ultimately lost her bid for a PC nomination. Smith returned to broadcasting, on Corus radio, before leaving her show in 2021," the Journal said.
Also noted was former Wildrose MLA Drew Barnes. He is noted as "one of Kenney’s most outspoken critics, both in caucus, and from the outside, as one of the most public faces in the anti-Kenney movement this year. He and fellow MLA Todd Lowen were removed from caucus in a vote after the pair were outspoken over the government’s handling of COVID-19. He has also been vocal about Alberta independence needing to be part of the discussion in the province’s dealings with Ottawa."
Other important potential candidates can be Travis Toews, the "northern Alberta MLA [who] has been the premier’s steady hand on the province’s finances since winning government in 2019. He has been the face of the attempts to balance the books, and has generally shied away from some of the combativeness of his cabinet colleagues," in addition to Doug Schweitzer. "Currently the minister of jobs, economy and innovation, Schweitzer finished a distant third to Kenney and Jean in the 2017 UCP leadership contest. After the 2019 election, Schweitzer was appointed minister of justice and solicitor general, a position he held for about 16 months until being moved to his current portfolio."