Alberta Politics
Central Peace-Notley UCP MLA Todd Loewen (Photo: Facebook).

Todd Loewen becomes first UCP MLA to call for Premier Jason Kenney’s resignation

Posted on May 13, 2021, 12:26 pm
5 mins

Todd Loewen, United Conservative Party MLA for Central Peace-Notley, called in a letter dated this morning for the resignation of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

Damning the Kenney Government as “out of touch and arrogant,” Mr. Loewen also quit as chair of the UCP Caucus. “I feel it is best to resign this position to be able to speak freely.” 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

A member of the group of dissident UCP MLAs known mockingly as the COVID 18 for their opposition to stricter coronavirus mitigation measures recently imposed by the Kenney cabinet, Mr. Loewen is the first MLA in Alberta’s increasingly divided government caucus to call for the premier’s resignation. 

If you wanted evidence the divisions in the UCP are real, this is it. The wheels are falling off the clown car.

It’s important not to valorize Mr. Loewen. He is, after all, part of a group of mostly rural MLAs whose principal objection to Mr. Kenney is that the premier is imposing COVID-19 mitigation measures that, while still insufficient, are too strict for their taste. In other words, they’re a significant contributor to the problems harming the province and causing the UCP to unravel. 

That said, it’s a blistering and articulate letter that sounds as if Mr. Loewen spent hours getting the wording just right. The letter was posted just before midnight last night on Mr. Loewen’s Facebook account. 

In it, the former Wildrose MLA assails Mr. Kenney’s arrogant style of one-man government, complaining of arbitrarily cancelled meetings, big decisions made without notice to members, and input from members barely considered. 

He extends the list of complaints beyond pandemic response to the government’s War on Doctors, its coal development policy on the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies, which he said “did not align with the expectations and values of Albertans,” and its dealings with “a hostile federal government.”

“Albertans have lost trust in the leadership of our government and are no longer willing to extend us any benefit of the doubt on most issues,” the former Wildrose MLA complained, with justice. 

“The caucus dysfunction we are experiencing is a direct result of your leadership,” he told the premier. “Messaging from your government has been contradictory, confusing, and needlessly inflammatory,” he went on, skillfully wielding an Oxford comma. (Emphasis added.) 

“The people of Alberta have lost trust in this government because you have not brought needed balance and reason to the discussion,” he continued. “These folks have not abandoned the principles and values of the UCP, but they have abandoned you specifically.”

Accordingly, concluded Mr. Loewen, who supported former Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean in the UCP leadership race, “I thank you for your service, but I am asking that you resign so that we can begin to put the province back together again.” 

The province is probably alright, of course. Putting the Frankenparty Mr. Kenney helped create back in 2017 back together again, though, is another matter. It may be a task too big even for all the king’s horses and all the king’s men!

Alert readers will recall that Mr. Loewen was part of a group that pledged never to cross the floor because that would be disrespectful of voters. You have to wonder if this letter is a tactic to wiggle out of that commitment. If so, we can probably expect to hear more of the same.

Mr. Kenney doubtless had wind of this development. It’s no wonder he wanted to keep the Legislature padlocked for another week: He may not have feared only questions from the NDP Opposition, as was suggested in the last post in this space, but from his own side of the House as well. This morning’s UCP Caucus meeting has been cancelled. 

17 Comments to: Todd Loewen becomes first UCP MLA to call for Premier Jason Kenney’s resignation

  1. A.O.

    May 13th, 2021

    After the announcement that the legislature needed an extra week……………..early this morning, very early, Todd Loewen (apparently a senior ucp backbench member) posted a letter on Facebook calling on kenney to resign.
    I was about to comment on the last story, but this one seems more appropriate.
    Next story to show up was about the resignation of Todd Loewen……… no details available as to whether or not he was just resigning as caucus chief or as mla. Apparently more is to come.

    Reply
  2. Jeff Mills

    May 13th, 2021

    As you say, David, we shouldn’t celebrate this too much. Loewen leads a group of bozos who actually think Alberta’s gone too far with its COVID restrictions, and not far enough with its fight against Ottawa.

    But … there’s something almost Shakespearean about a caucus revolt against the Premier being launched by a chairperson who just happens to be the MLA from the constituency named after a beloved former NDP and Opposition leader and father of the current Opposition leader (and former Premier).

    Reply
  3. just Me

    May 13th, 2021

    While crossing the floor maybe out of the question, not showing up for a vote of non-confidence is on the table.

    Loewen is one of these ‘pure laine’ Wildrosers who have been suspicious of Kenney and his carpetbaggers the day they showed up in Alberta. A whole of right-wing ideologues rolling in from ‘tario looking for plum public offices and easy living. It’s not like these free-enterprise, pull-yourself-up, hard-work is religion CONs actually want to work for a living. They see the relation between government and the governed as purely transactional: give the CONs enough money, and they will play attention to you. It’s a pretty simple formula that works in many places, like India and Russia.

    So, while the Legislature pretends to be a Reichstag Fire, and Premier Crying & Angry Midget remains holed up in his Führerbunker, (AKA The Sky Palace) an unknown number of UCP members are playing out their own version of ‘Night of the Long Knives’.

    If Brian Jean had ascended to the premiership, there would never have been this much drama. While Kenney has often declared that PMJT should be made a drama teacher again, Kenney is the only one who can successful claim the title of ‘Drama Queen’.

    Reply
  4. Dave

    May 13th, 2021

    Ah, it is all starting to make sense now. The Legislature’s extended shut down is not as much because Kenney fears public scrutiny, although it is probably also a factor, but because he wants to keep some of his own MLA’s away from him. Maybe Kenney is not familiar with that old saying – keep your friends close, but your enemies closer, or perhaps he is no longer certain of just who his friends are.

    In any event, this makes things a lot more difficult for Kenney. I doubt that his autocratic style was ever very warmly received by the Wildrose faction of his party, although I suspect they tolerated it when he seemed to be politically successful. Unfortunately, for Kenney that success seems to have dissipated.

    I do wonder if the UCP will now go into a humpty dumpty like fall, like the once seemingly invincible PC’s did. As one political commentator already pointed out today, I am not sure the public is in the mood for a party preoccupied with its own leadership issues in the middle of what remains a public health crisis.

    I am also not sure who in the UCP can calm the unruly Wildrose group who are concerned mostly about liberty while assuring the majority of Albertans whose concerns are more around public health, but I suspect what is needed now is a leader that is less confrontational and autocratic. Times change, sometimes suddenly and the political tactics and personalities that were successful before for a long time can suddenly become ineffective and counter productive. Perhaps Kenney can ask some of the old PC’s about that, if he is inclined to ask for advise now from anyone outside of his inner circle.

    Reply
  5. Scotty on Denman

    May 13th, 2021

    Jumpty Kenumpty sat on a bubble
    Jumpty Kenumpty spat at his trouble
    All the wild rose thorns and rodeo men
    Couldn’t put the bubble together again.

    Surface tension is quite resilient so long’s stresses are distributed evenly. Bubbles need soaping of course: the polar hydrophilic/lipophilic chemistry actually gets stronger as the soapy molecules are stretched thinner and orient more uniformly and, when stresses are relieved, the surface elastically returns to it’s original spherical context, undented. Like the late, great Steve Goodman sang in his too-seldom acknowledged “Somebody Else’s Troubles”: “Just as long as fate is out there busting somebody else’s bubble/ Everything’s gonna be alright/ And everything’s a-gonna be alright!”

    Yes, the UCP is somewhat different than, say, a Covid “bubble”: its members have deformed and dented the party’s surface tension to a degree that one suspects something akin to a rumble is going on inside its superficial unity—as if they’re struggling to get out of the bubble instead of trying to stay safely inside as one should do with respect a pandemic “bubble.”

    But if you’ve ever seen a puddle where a bubble used to be, you’ll know equilibrium can be more conservatively achieved and maintained. Alls it takes is one small prick.

    With all the dyspheric hubbub and mesmerizing rainbow slicks superficially swirling on the UCP’s bubble politic like a saponifically sad trip through circumstantial sparks and cinders, it’s sometimes hard to keep in mind that Alberta will not forever be a Big Box spiritual flip-tent for enraptured revivalists on particularly bad acid. Kenney could not sustain a Timothy Leary policy position forever; gritty reality was bound to sand its way through the crazy cat’s cradle of blithe, psychopathetic bellicosity. In the puddle of its least finest hour, political forensics examining splatter marks of popgun populism, the UCP is crashing upon its own comeuppance and, as hard as it might be to believe at the moment, settling into its more normal state midst the fizzy tartness of an ensuing seltzer bottle fight in a benighted conservative after-party. Tiny bubbles. O, Don Ho, where are you now? (Phil Collins, right…? Like from the book of Genesis…right…?… )

    Loewen, behold! Who are those masked riders smartly— and safely —formed up just outside the pall of sour gas bearing down on the provincial assembly? Will there soon be Peace, Notley?

    Hopefully, yes, but not without some more vaccinating and considerable sausage-making in the meantime to gore up the town.

    Blimey! Stay safe, my Alberta friends!

    Reply
  6. Bill Malcolm

    May 13th, 2021

    It seems like the attack of the killer drones from outer space upon his lordly pudginess, king kenney. Just what this country needs, even stronger dopes to mismanage Covid response in the Blight Capital of Canada if they succeed in ousting dear jay one way or t’other. You’d think Brian Jean, sweating away in the hot spot of all hot spots in Fort Mac and all the tarsands ops (every one of which is listed on the NS government’s website as requiring immediate quarantine by anyone arriving from there on rotational R&R), would be a bit more au fait on Covid dangers if he supports this nimrod Loewen, and vice versa. But hey, it’s Alberta, where reality rarely intrudes in conservative politics. It’s all about God and ideology and screwed-up ideas of what an EMERGENCY is.

    Reply
  7. Lars

    May 13th, 2021

    Mr. Loewen will have to explain how, despite the controversy surrounding Jason Kenney’s campaign for the UCP leadership, the party nonetheless elected him. A candidate for a managerial position in a big company, someone seeking to be elected to a school board, hell, any position that requires some evaluation of one’s character based upon prior performance, would have have had their candidacy squashed before getting to the long list, but the UCP seemed quite happy to put Jason Kenney in charge. So it would seem to me that Jason Kenney in fact exemplifies the “principles and values” of the UCP.

    Reply
  8. Mike J Danysh

    May 13th, 2021

    The first shot has been fired in the UCP uncivil war. Kenney is probably starting to feel besieged, and may well develop a “bunker mentality” now that “They’re all against me, the ungrateful (insert insult here).”

    Loewen has accurately summed up Kenney’s record. However, I’m more annoyed with Loewen’s throwaway phrase about a “hostile federal government.” This is more of the old Oilberduh victim mindset, the poor-little-rich-kid, poor-pitiful-me attitude that earned us the reputation of Canada’s biggest whiners. Remind me which government coughed up billions in support for laid-off employees? And for businesses, there were interest-free loans, rent subsidies, loan guarantees, sector-specific support like the $1B for orphan oil well remediation.

    Kenney is so blinded by American anti-business bias he refused to cooperate with the Feds on everything from the contact-tracing app to wage top-ups for low-wage “essential workers”—think of the meat cutters at Cargill, or daycare workers for example. Loewen is apparently stuck in the “I hate Pierre” groove, so I wonder when he’ll resurrect the ghost of the old National Energy Policy.

    The Unhinged Contrarian Party—”we’re against everything, even each other.”

    Reply
  9. Abs

    May 13th, 2021

    For the cost of a subscription to The Western Standard, we can all be flies on the wall as someone live-leaks the proceedings.* Meh. Pass.

    *15-day free trial for an eternity of spam.

    Reply
  10. Alan K. Spiller

    May 13th, 2021

    Not hard to guess that these phoney conservatives are trying to save their butts knowing how upset Albertans are with them. They had no problem ignoring our doctors recommendations in trying to keep Albertans safe and didn’t show any respect for our health care workers at all. Putting the saving of businesses ahead of saving lives shows how stupid they are.

    They had no problem trying to drive out our rural doctors so they could close down our rural health care services and were prepared to let our water supply be polluted by coal production. While they cut taxes for the rich they find it smart to promise to cut health care and education jobs and increase university students tuition fees by 40%.

    All in all they have been a joke and typical of what Reformers stand for. Forcing the public into more and more privatization while they give away billions of the peoples royalties and tax wealth to their rich friends, spread their lies and blame others.

    Reply
  11. John Kolkman

    May 13th, 2021

    As Brian Mason once said: “I like right wing parties so much I want there to be more than one of them.”

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      May 16th, 2021

      Reminds me of the quote from French writer & Nobel laureate (Literature, 1952) François Maurac, who said, commenting on the prospect of German reunification — “I love Germany so much, I’m glad there are two of them”. https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Mauriac

      Maybe Mr Mason cribbed that quote for this circumstance …

      Reply
  12. Public Servant

    May 13th, 2021

    What sort of a “leader” shuts down the legislature for three weeks during a pandemic while his province has the worst rates of infection in all of Canada and the United States?

    A real leader doesn’t hide when the going gets tough, but Kenney does.

    Reply
  13. John Kolkman

    May 13th, 2021

    Hilarious to read David Staples’ take in the former newspaper of record aka the Edmonton Journal. As an aside, not sure why I still subscribe other than old habits are hard to break. You’d almost think Staples was auditioning to be an Issues Manager for Jason Kenney.

    Reply
  14. Comment

    May 13th, 2021

    I’ve been saying for awhile that the old Wildrosers are starting to flex. Now that Loewen has been booted out of caucus, we will begin to see the extent of that flexing.

    Reply
  15. Anonymous

    May 14th, 2021

    Albertans have a disaster on their hands, and it’s from the UCP.

    Reply
  16. Dan Boyd

    June 12th, 2021

    Some great comments and I can’t really add to that. Alberta has voted itself into quite a peck of trouble. I worked very hard to keep our former govt. in only to be kicked out at 70 percent. There was a lot of information spread and believed in that campaign with no idea of how to truly govern a province. If Mr. Loewen didn’t believe in Kenney from the start. Why did he ever run for the party. Now we are a constituency in limbo riding through the waves with no real direction. There is no money coming in on a provincial level before as this constituency is pretty much viewed as sewn up. Anyone blue can win no matter what is thrown at it. Now things are more toxic I don’t expect any help on a provincial level as we ride a wave without emergency services. Mr Loewen in one of his speeches I was in on attendance at Fahler said the opposition were Lying outright and there would be no change to health care.? There were many attacks on handling of pipelines etc. Well the UCP have thrown away 1.3 million on a pipe to nowhere whereas our former provincial government in cohesion with the Federal managed to push the Feds. into putting money into a pipeline that is actually getting constructed. The thing Mr. Loewen and the UCP are really good at is a whole lot of gas lighting and misinformation and out right lies. If one is going to build one needs to believe in what they are doing and their leader. The next two years unless they start sitting on their hands and just continue to ravish in tax payer money and cheap Irish Whiskey. Perhaps they won’t do to much more damage? This province would be so much better if ruled by a party that just partied up in Sky Palace and did nothing. We are going backwards so fast it is going to be a very tough fix.

    Reply

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