Calgary MLA steps down to allow Jason Kenney to run for legislature seat

A United Conservative Party MLA in Calgary is resigning Nov. 1 to allow new party leader Jason Kenney to run for a seat in the Alberta legislature.

Kenney holds news conference Sunday afternoon

United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney, right, looks on as Dave Rodney announces his resignation as the MLA for Calgary-Lougheed effective Nov. 1. Rodney's resignation allows Kenney to run for his seat in the legislature. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

A United Conservative Party MLA in Calgary is resigning Nov. 1 to allow new party leader Jason Kenney to run for a seat in the Alberta legislature.

Dave Rodney, the MLA for Calgary-Lougheed, made the announcement with Kenney by his side in Calgary Sunday. Kenney said Rodney approached him months ago about stepping down, but the agreement was firmed up in the last 72 hours. 

Rodney said it was important to get Kenney into the legislature. 

"It's an opportunity for our friends and neighbours to witness Mr. Kenney in action in the legislature as he brings his incredible vision as the intrepid leader of our exciting new United Conservative movement," he said. 

Kenney said he needed to be in the legislature as the leader of the Official Opposition and said he looked forward to speaking with Premier Rachel Notley about the byelection. 

"I am confident she will respect the long-standing Westminster parliamentary convention of calling a byelection without delay when there is a party leader seeking entry to the legislature to be leader of the Opposition" he said. ​

Kenney, the former Conservative MP and cabinet minister under former prime minister Stephen Harper, captured 61 per cent of the ballots cast in this week's vote to win leadership of the United Conservative Party, easily defeating opponents Brian Jean and Doug Schweitzer.

Rodney was first elected as a Progressive Conservative MLA in 2004. He did not rule out returning to politics, but would not confirm whether he would run in the 2019 provincial election. 

Founding convention in May 

Kenney held a transition meeting Sunday morning and plans to meet with the UCP caucus Sunday evening and Monday morning. Kenney will announce who will lead the caucus in the legislative assembly for the fall session when it starts on Monday. 

Kenney said the party's founding convention has been scheduled for May 4, 5 and 6 in Red Deer. 

As for his leadership opponent Brian Jean, the UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin and former leader of the Wildrose Party, Kenney said he wanted Jean to play an important and critical role within caucus. 

"We need his voice and presence," he said. "I look forward to talking to him about his continued involvement, hopefully in the next day or two, and to invite him to play an important role in our shadow cabinet, and hopefully in our future government." 

Kenney said he did not intend to "micro-manage" the UCP caucus during the fall session of the legislature. Instead, he planned to focus his efforts on building the party. 

The next provincial general election is scheduled for the spring of 2019.

The UCP was formed in July after members of the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties agreed to merge into a single right-of-centre party. 

The party is Alberta's Official Opposition, holding 27 of 87 seats in the Alberta legislature. The NDP, led by Premier Rachel Notley, has 54.