'I serve the people of Alberta': Brian Jean deflects questions about political future
Former Wildrose leader finished second to Jason Kenney in UCP leadership race
An emotional Brian Jean deflected questions about his future in the United Conservative Party caucus prior to the start of the fall legislature session on Monday.
Jean, the former leader of the official opposition Wildrose party, lost the leadership of the UCP to Jason Kenney on Saturday. Monday marked the first time Jean has spoken to reporters.
Answering a question about how he felt about being left out of the caucus leadership, Jean looked as if he was holding back tears.
"I already have a leadership role," he said. "I serve the people of Alberta. I'm the MLA for Fort McMurray[-Conklin]. I'm proud of what I do."
- Kenney win of United Conservative Party leadership means clear choice for NDP
- Jason Kenney elected 1st leader of Alberta's United Conservative Party
- Fall legislature session: a new opposition, familiar faces in different places
During a news conference Monday at the Alberta legislature, Kenney named his leadership team.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Jason Nixon will be leader of the Official Opposition in the legislature until Kenney is able to win a seat.
Nixon will also fill the role of house leader, a position formerly held by Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper.
Kenney appointed other UCP MLAs as whip, deputy whip and deputy house leader.
When pressed for answers about his future plans or whether he wanted a critic's position in the UCP caucus, Jean answered the same way each time: "I'm here to serve the people of Alberta."
Jean gave the same answer when asked point-blank whether he was resigning.
"I serve the people of Alberta and I've served them for a long time. I've done that 10 years federally and I've done that now 2½ years provincially," he said.
"I think I've earned the ability to tell you that I continue to serve the people of Alberta.
"I'm very proud to do so, and I continue to do so, and I will do so," he said. Then he walked away.
'Here I am today'
An hour earlier Kenney was asked about Jean's future within the caucus. He said he spoke to Jean on Sunday night.
"I reinforced to Brian how important he is to our team as I did on Saturday night in Calgary," he said.
Kenney said he planned to announce critic roles in the caucus this week.
"I would certainly invite Brian to play a significant role," he said.
Asked if Jean was going to leave, Kenney said he had heard nothing to suggest he wasn't sticking around.
Jean did not attend the UCP caucus meeting Monday morning.
He said he wanted to spend time with his family and decompress from the leadership race.
"Here I am today, as I promised," Jean said.
At least two former Wildrose staffers who took leaves of absence to work on Jean's leadership campaign will not be back with the UCP caucus.
"Naturally, I want to include in the staff who have been a critical part of my team for the past 16 months," Kenney said.
"A large part of staff who have been with the Official Opposition and both legacy parties will be continuing. But obviously there will be some staff changes."