Calgary

Michelle Rempel Garner is giving 'serious consideration' to UCP leadership bid

Calgary Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel Garner says she has been encouraged to seek the leadership of the UCP and will no longer be participating in the federal Conservative leadership race.

Calgary MP announced her intentions over Twitter Wednesday evening

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in April. She announced on June 23 she is not seeking the leadership of Alberta's United Conservative Party. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Calgary Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel Garner says she is giving a leadership bid for Alberta's United Conservative Party "serious consideration."

In a Twitter thread on Wednesday night, Rempel Garner said she has been encouraged to seek the leadership of the UCP and will no longer be participating in the federal Conservative leadership race.

Rempel Garner's comments come nearly a month after Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced his intention to resign as UCP leader though he is staying on until a new leader is chosen.

Rempel Garner was co-chair of Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown's campaign for the federal Conservative leadership.

"I owe it to Albertans to give this critical decision my full and complete attention," wrote Rempel Garner. 

"I will make my decision based on the conversations I have with the people I represent — Albertans."

The Twitter announcement marks Rempel Garner's first public comment in relation to the race after being heavily rumoured to announce her candidacy.

Rempel Garner is a well-known political presence in Calgary whose far-reaching platform includes both strong support for LGBTQ rights and gun ownership. 

She was also one of just two remaining MPs supporting Brown's bid for the federal Conservative leadership campaign.

Bid for 'bigger splash,' says pollster 

Political commentator and pollster Janet Brown said Rempel Garner's one-foot-in approach to announcing her bid could be a strategy to assess her support base. 

"She's probably trying to build a little bit of excitement, get some people to step out and speak in her favour … and if she does decide to run, maybe she'll have a bigger splash because she built up the suspense a bit."

The pollster said Rempel Garner's withdrawal from Patrick Brown's federal leadership bid could further undermine his ballot hopes.

"[It's] a big blow to him. He already lost support from a couple other MLAs earlier this week and it may really signal almost the official end of his campaign," said Brown.

Moderate on social policies

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said that Rempel Garner, as a federal politician, carries a degree of baggage. Both Jim Prentice, a former federal Conservative cabinet minister, and Kenney, also a high-profile Conservative cabinet member, struggled in the provincial realm.

Prentice, who led Alberta's Progressive Conservative party, lost to Rachel Notley's NDP in 2015.

Still, Bratt believes Rempel Garner would have support as a candidate.

"She's moderate on social policies, but also signed the Buffalo Declaration. So we'll have to see." The Buffalo Declaration, a document signed in 2020 by four Conservative Alberta MPs — including Rempel Garner — argues for a better position for Alberta in Confederation.

Kenney resigned last month after earning 51.4 per cent support in a leadership review. He plans to stay on as premier until the party chooses a new leader in October.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kylee is a reporter/editor with CBC Calgary. You can reach her at kylee.pedersen@cbc.ca

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