Jason Kenney leadership review to be held in Red Deer, Alta.: UCP board

The United Conservative Party board of directors has decided to hold a special general meeting in Red Deer, Alta., on April 9.

Kenney's approval rating is 26 per cent, latest Angus Reid premiers poll suggests

If most people vote 'No', a United Conservative Party leadership race will be immediately triggered. (Todd Korol/The Canadian Press)

The United Conservative Party board of directors has decided to hold a special general meeting in Red Deer, Alta.

The in-person event, which will be held at the Cambridge Red Deer Hotel and Conference Centre, will review Premier Jason Kenney's leadership on April 9. Though an election campaign training workshop will be held there too, according to the party's website.

"This special general meeting has been called by the board of directors for the exclusive purpose of holding a leadership review," the meeting's rules and procedures say. "No other substantive business will be conducted."

People who attend will vote yes or no on this question: "Do you approve of the current Leader?"

Kenney's approval rating has plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly because of how his government has handled it.

The latest Angus Reid Institute premier approval ratings, published Jan. 17, suggest Kenney's 26 per cent approval is the second-worst among other provincial premiers. That figure is up four per cent from last fall, but only Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson has less approval.

There has been division among United Conservatives when it comes to Kenney's leadership.

Some disgruntled MLAs have spoken out publicly about their feelings toward Kenney.

At the UCP annual meeting in November, party members voted on a motion drafted by the Edmonton North West constituency association that proposed increasing the number of constituency associations needed to call a leadership review from 22 to 29.

The proposal, which came shortly after 22 constituency associations passed motions asking for an early review of Kenney's leadership, failed to pass.

Also, in December, former Wildrose party leader Brian Jean won the race to represent the UCP in a byelection to fill the vacant MLA seat in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche constituency.

Jean, who lost the 2017 UCP leadership race to Kenney, has said Kenney needs to step aside for the party to succeed, and that he would want to run for party leadership if given the opportunity.

The leadership review in April is not a leadership race. However, if most people vote 'No', then a leadership race is immediately triggered.

According to party bylaws, people can only vote in the leadership review if they are a party member in good standing — someone with a current membership number — for at least 21 days prior to the vote.

Party members can only vote in person. They can register to attend the meeting online, or in Red Deer before the meeting starts.