Former Wildrose frontman Brian Jean said he felt “incredibly humbled” by the support he had received since his candidacy was announced to try to run for the vacant UCP seat in Fort McMurray .
The man who lost the leadership of the UCP to Prime Minister Jason Kenney last week has filed documents asking for the UCP to be inaugurated in his former constituency of Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche.
âI’ve been busier than ever – phones, emails, it’s just overwhelming,â Jean said in an interview with the Western standard Thursday.
âI even asked people from other parts of Alberta to volunteer to come here and help.
Jean has said he is running because he fears another government led by Rachel Notley after the 2023 election. And a poll released Wednesday shows that is on the way to happening.
Jean has an opponent so far in the nomination battle, Joshua Gogo, an economist who was appointed to the province’s Auto Insurance Rates Commission last year.
âWe had Minister (Kaycee) Madu for several days campaigning on behalf of my opponent. We haven’t seen a cabinet minister spend so much time in Fort McMurray in ages, âsaid Jean.
He said his biggest obstacle was informing his supporters of the party rules for voting on a nomination – they have to pay $ 10 to be a party member.
âI’ve seen people say ‘there’s no way I’m giving this guy (Kenney) $ 10,’ Jean said.
Kenney has until mid-February to call a by-election.
“He’ll call her when it looks like I’m losing,” Jean said, adding that he had witnessed “shenanigans” at other nomination meetings.
And Jean said he plans to attend the UCP’s AGM on the weekend of Nov. 19 at Gray Eagle Casino, if allowed.
âI don’t know anymore,â said Jean.
Kenney says if UCP voters in Fort McMurray want Jean to run in their constituency, he will sign the nomination papers.
“I would support whichever the members choose,” Kenney told reporters at a press conference last week.
Kenney then shot Jean, calling him unreliable.
“Local members will have questions about his reliability given that he did not complete his term as an MP, he did not complete his term as an MP,” Kenney said.
He added that in 2019, Jean was looking for possible leadership within the Conservative Freedom Party.
âAny member of the UCP has the right to stand for the nomination of a party. We have open and democratic appointments in the party. Of course, there is a verification process, but eligible people are welcome, âKenney said.
âI would 100% support whatever the members choose. “
The riding was left vacant recently when UCP MP Laila Goodridge resigned to run for the federal Tories. She easily won the last provincial election in the riding, garnering 67% of the vote.
Jean was the leader of the original Wildrose and was the Leader of the Opposition from 2015 to 2017.
Jean has spent the past year shooting Kenney from the sidelines, calling for his resignation on several occasions.
In June, Jean called on Kenney to step down following the Sky Palace scandal.
“FOR THE GOOD OF UCP, FOR THE GOOD OF ALBERTA, IT’S TIME FOR JASON KENNEY TO RESIGN,” Jean wrote in all caps on his Facebook page.
âI’ve been thinking about it for several days as I watched Premier Kenney take another relatively minor problem and turn it into a political crisis.
âI was disappointed that the Premier and his chosen entourage made a mess by following the COVID rules he imposed on all Albertans. But I was much more disappointed that when he was clearly wrong he just didn’t apologize, âwrote Jean.
âAnd it made me think of how many times I have been disappointed with the way this government is doing things. The Kenney government has a real âhowâ problem. Even when they do things that Albertans overwhelmingly support, they somehow manage to do them in a way that offends and angers as many people as possible.
âThe Prime Minister seems to think that anyone who is not 100% loyal to Jason Kenney is enemies of this government. “
Jean added that “this brutal attitude” has spread to the political staff who still support Kenney and many of his ministers.
âIt leaves you with the impression that a lot of people at the highest levels of this government don’t really like Albertans.