Wildrose constituency association calls for Brian Jean leadership review

A Wildrose constituency association is calling for a review of Brian Jean's party leadership, which comes as the embattled leader deals with turmoil on the personal and political fronts.

Brian Jean and area MLA shoot back, say association president's views are not widespread

Brian Jean, leader of the Wildrose Party, the official opposition of the Alberta government is seen at the Conservative Party of Canada convention in Vancouver on May 27. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

A Wildrose constituency association is calling for a review of Brian Jean's party leadership, which comes as the embattled leader deals with turmoil on the personal and political fronts.

The constituency association in Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills passed a resolution Tuesday night calling for a leadership review at the party's AGM in October.

"In some people's minds, they are not happy with some of the actions that have taken place — as some were not happy with some of the actions in our previous leader," association president Carl Christensen told CBC News. 

"But recent events probably prompted some action on behalf of some of the members," he added.

The Wildrose board in the Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills riding passed a resolution Tuesday night calling for a leadership review this fall.

"In the [Derek] Fildebrandt case, the fact that a suspension took place then, within three days, reinstatement. It just doesn't appear good in the eyes of many people."

Christensen said there were different views expressed Tuesday but even Jean's supporters agreed with calling for a review.

The last few weeks have been particularly trying for the Wildrose Party and Jean, a 53-year-old lawyer from Fort McMurray, took over as Wildrose leader in March 2015.

Jean was coping with the fires in Fort McMurray, including the loss of his own family home in May.

Soon after, controversy erupted after the party suspended Derek Fildebrandt over "an unacceptable comment on social media," but soon reinstated him in caucus — sparking rumours of in-party fighting.

Angry Fildebrandt supporters took to his Facebook page last week, with some commenters calling for a leadership review to oust Jean.

At the time, though, Wildrose officials put on a united front with party president Jeff Callaway saying it was time to put the controversy behind them. Fildebrandt also denied any attempt to have Jean ousted.

"I'm not interested in that," he said last week after rejoining caucus.

"I supported Brian from the very first day he announced he would run for the Wildrose leadership. You know, that's why we're here, as a strong opposition, working together united to hold the NDP's feet to the fire."

Jean responds

In a statement Thursday afternoon, Jean said he feels he has the support of most party members.

"I'm not surprised there are some members who are uncomfortable with setting a bold new vision for Wildrose," he said.

"But I have travelled every corner of Alberta and am confident the vast majority of members and conservatives across the province want to see Wildrose broaden our tent and consolidate conservatives heading into the next election."

'Do not reflect my view'

David Hanson, the Wildrose MLA for the area, expressed support for Jean.

"Mr. Christensen's comments do not reflect my views, or the views of our board," Hanson said.

"Under Brian Jean, Wildrose is growing at an unprecedented rate across the province, and leading everywhere, except for Edmonton, where we are in a strong second place. Brian is the most popular leader in Alberta right now, most popular leader in Wildrose history, and he is the right person to lead Wildrose and the conservative movement forward."

The motion is merely a proposal at this point. It is submitted to the party's policy and constitution committee for consideration to be brought to the annual general meeting in October.

"Whatever they do with it, I have no idea," Christensen said.

"I am sure they will discuss it."

100s of proposals each year

The party receives dozens if not hundreds of proposals every year, the party president tells CBC News.

Jeff Callaway said they are compiled and reviewed, then returned to the constituency associations to decide which are priorities for discussion.

He said it's simply not possible to address every proposal at a single AGM.

"We would be there for days, if not weeks," Callaway said.

'The Wildrose eats its own,' warns political strategist Stephen Carter

7 years ago
Duration 1:16
A political panel weighs in on what the call for a Wildrose leadership review could mean for leader Brian Jean.