Jason Kenney pitches democratic reform while deflecting allegations and attack website

As UCP leader Jason Kenney unveiled new policies on how to enhance democracy, he fielded questions about alleged irregularities in his leadership campaign and fended off a new offensive by the NDP.

UCP leader wants MLA recall and cap on donations by third-party advertisers

Jason Kenney wants voters to have the power to recall their MLA if they're not satisfied and calls election fundraising changes brought in by the NDP cosmetic at best. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

As UCP leader Jason Kenney unveiled new policies on how to enhance democracy, he fielded questions about alleged irregularities in his leadership campaign, and fended off a new offensive by the NDP.

During a news conference in Edmonton Thursday Kenney said he intends to introduce MLA recall, create a fixed election date, ban floor crossings and bring back senate elections should he win the next election.

He called contribution caps and changes brought in by the NDP government "cosmetic," and recommended a fundraising cap of $30,000 be put on third-party advertisers.

The return to electing senators in Alberta is especially important, Kenney said, because 1.2 million people in Alberta cast a ballot for senators in the past.

"A lot of the know-it-alls have always ridiculed the whole Alberta senate election process, but Albertans didn't," said Kenney.

Kenney was asked about allegations within his own party that his leadership victory in the UCP was fraught with improprieties.

Former UCP MLA Prab Gill accuses Kenney's campaign team of tinkering with the voting system to favour Kenney in the party's leadership race.

Gill, who now sits as an independent MLA, sent a letter to the RCMP and to the Alberta Elections Commissioner asking that an investigation into the leadership vote be launched.

Rejects allegations

Kenney strenuously denounced the accusations, calling Gill a "discredited politician," who was kicked out of the party for being involved in stuffing ballot boxes.

"It's sad to see Prab descend to this level," he said.

Kenney said a number of safeguards were put in place during the leadership vote to make it impossible to carry out what Gill alleged.

"This is just transparently ridiculous."

UCP Leader Jason Kenney describes why he plans to renew the Senatorial Selection Act as part of his party's democratic reforms if elected. 1:25

The RCMP confirmed it received the letter of complaint from Gill, but hasn't said if it's investigating.

Kenney said the RCMP has not contacted him or the UCP in regards to the complaint.

"They do not have time to chase completely ridiculous conspiracy theories from a discredited politician," Kenney said.

NDP launches attack website

A half hour after the UCP news conference started, the NDP hosted an event a few blocks away to launch a website called The Truth About Jason Kenney.

The sinister-looking website features a picture of a much-heavier Kenney in the House of Commons with the words, "the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour."

The site lists five "truths" about Kenney.

In addition to sections addressing abortion rights and LGBTQ issues, the site links to sections on how Kenney "breaks the rules time and again," how he is planning massive cuts to services families depend on, and how his 20 years as an MP and cabinet minister was "marked by multiple scandals."

Transportation Minister Brian Mason, who is not seeking re-election, claimed the information on the website is based on fact.
NDP MLA Brian Mason explains why his party has launched a website called thetruthaboutjasonkenney.ca. 0:58

"These and other truths tell the story of a man who says one thing and does another, who would like, if given a chance, to impose his personal beliefs on others, who has what can be properly described an extreme agenda."

Kenney has said his views on same-sex marriage have evolved. Mason rejected that suggestion, saying that Kenney has realized that these beliefs have become "politically inconvenient."

Mason says anti-abortion groups have worked on UCP nomination campaigns. The Wilberforce Project recently talked about their successes in a newsletter to their members.

"If the UCP wins the upcoming election, then we will have the most pro-life legislature in decades and maybe ever," wrote Cameron Wilson, director of political action at The Wilberforce Project.

With files from Michelle Bellefontaine