Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn during his mid-pandemic holiday in Mexico (Photo: Facebook/Pat Rehn).

On the morning of Jan. 14, a day after an Edmonton researcher revealed Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn had spent almost all of April, May, June and July in Edmonton while constituents complained he was never seen in the riding, Premier Jason Kenney kicked the missing MLA out of the United Conservative Party caucus.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney does cowboy cosplay at the Calgary Stampede (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

In a Facebook post published that morning, the premier said Mr. Rehn “has made no meaningful effort to work in his constituency, or properly to represent his hard-working constituents.”

Moreover, Mr. Kenney stated, “I have repeatedly asked Mr. Rehn to be more present in his constituency. He has ignored calls from me, UCP caucus leadership, and his constituents to do so.” There was also the matter of Mr. Rehn’s mid-pandemic Mexican winter holiday vacation, and the angry assertions of local business people he spent more time in Texas tending to a business he owned there than he did in the riding. 

Accordingly, the premier said, “I have made the decision to remove Pat Rehn from the UCP Caucus, effective immediately. MLA Rehn will sit as an independent MLA. He will not be permitted to run for a future UCP nomination.” (Emphasis added.)

That certainly sounded decisive. 

Well, that was then. This is now. Apparently something has changed. 

Yesterday, the prodigal MLA was welcomed back into the UCP fold. The welcoming wasn’t done by Mr. Kenney, of course, for consistency’s sake, one supposes. UCP Caucus Chair Nathan Neudorf extended the warm hand of renewed friendship to Mr. Rehn.

“Since his removal from caucus,” said a news release from the UCP, “Rehn has worked tirelessly to rebuild trust with local families, businesses, elected officials and Indigenous leaders. As a result the United Conservative Caucus was presented with letters of support – including from several municipalities and the Lesser Slave Lake Constituency Association – requesting Rehn be allowed to rejoin caucus.”

It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall at some of the meetings that led to those letters being sent – seeing how unhappy locals in the rural riding north of Edmonton were with Mr. Rehn’s underwhelming performance. The CBC said it asked for the letters, and was given a list of names of folks favourably disposed toward Mr. Rehn instead. 

Rebellious former UCP MLA Todd Loewen, now banished to the Independent benches of the Alberta Legislature (Photo: Facebook/Todd Loewen).

Not so long ago, the Lesser Slave Lake UCP constituency association was said to be seeking nominations for a candidate to replace Mr. Rehn. Is that still on? 

Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman, one of the local politicians calling for Mr. Rehn to be fired at the end of last year, told the CBC neither he nor his council was consulted about the decision. Nor did they send a letter of endorsement, he said. 

What could have changed, you ask? Well, the United Conservative Party and Premier Kenney himself are not exactly riding high these days, no matter how many times they proclaim this to be the best summer ever. 

So there was, presumably, the danger Mr. Rehn might join exiled Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes and Central Peace-Notley MLA Todd Loewen, sent packing for daring to criticize the premier in mid-May, in some kind of right-wing opposition bloc. 

A couple more defectors from the unhappy former Wildrose ranks of the UCP Caucus, and they could almost have had a viable third party in the Legislature! 

Also banished from the UCP Caucus is Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Dew Barnes (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Mr. Kenney’s troubles were obviously seen as serious enough to bring Stephen Harper out of his recent obscurity yesterday to give the UCP Caucus a talking to about how they mustn’t be mean to Mr. Kenney and what’s more, if they don’t all hang together, they just might hang separately – metaphorically speaking, of course. 

At 11 a.m. today, the premier, Finance Minister Travis Toews, Justice Minister Kaycee Madu and Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish will gather in the McDougall Centre media room in Calgary to tell us about the list of province-wide referenda they are planning to have on the ballot during the Oct. 18 municipal elections. 

Expect lots of quasi-separatist nonsense inspired by Mr. Harper’s notorious 2001 Firewall Letter – replacing the Mounties with a UCP controlled provincial police force, getting out of the Canada Pension Plan, pulling the plug on the Canada Health Act, and so on – intended to placate the restive rural Wildrosers in caucus. 

The general effect is likely to be to persuade Canadians in other provinces that Albertans really are the embarrassing cousins of Confederation and to get them to vote in a Liberal majority when Erin O’Toole’s federal Conservatives fail to condemn Premier Kenney’s constant pandering to anti-Canadian divisiveness in his party’s own ranks.

Join the Conversation


  1. It’s clearly about the political perks with the UCP, their rich corporate friends, and not the best interests of Albertans. Pat Rehn does nothing for his constituents, barely shows up at his office, and defies the Covid-19 rules that the UCP mandated Albertans to go along with. Blind partisan voting is the norm in Alberta, and it has been for a very long time. It doesn’t help Alberta. Like the saying goes, in Alberta, a fence post could be painted blue, run as a conservative, and Albertans would gladly vote for it. If anyone else didn’t show up for their job, like Pat Rehn, they’d be sacked, no ifs ands or buts about it. If voters want to reelect Pat Rehn, there is something wrong with their thinking. If Albertans want to reelect the UCP, after all the very pricey shenanigans they have done, there clearly is something wrong with their thinking.

  2. We’ll have to see where this is headed, but at the constituency level, there seems to be efforts underway to nominate out MLAs who have been disobedient of the Dear Leader. Not surprisingly, all these MLAs are long-time Wildrosers, so it’s beginning to look like a purge is in the works.

    Given that there have been plenty of complaints about Kenney’s high-handed (elitist) approached to governance and conduct, one wonders if the WR factions among the UCP membership base will be willing to go along with ousting their favorite MLAs in favor of ones who want to be rewarded with goodies for their loyalty? I mean, unless things have changed, the wantonly corrupt are still embarrassments to have around. But if these means Kenney has put the word out that loyal ridings will be handsomely rewarded for favoring the Dear Leader, that goodie bag may not be big enough to reward everyone.

    On another note, it looks like Premier Crying & Screaming Midget is chastising the O & G industry for not spending enough to invest in the sector or employment. I mean he did give them a massive tax cut, not to mention a ton of other goodies, because they were constantly crying poor. And Kenney has been tirelessly defending the industry as being poor and needing billions in public funds to support them. Now, Kenney wants them to cough up and pay their own way?

    This is more gaslighting, however. If the industry admits that they cannot afford all the demands placed on them in terms of financial investment, it is apparent that they are not going to do anything requested of them. It’s beginning to look like a set-up for nationalization by Alberta, which is the path Kenney has been on all along.

    If people think Kenney is a risky gambler now, wait until he thinks he can use pension funds as leverage toward nationalization.

  3. He’s back! Just in time to start planning for the upcoming fall and winter travel season … and as a bonus, Tracy Allard is back in cabinet too! If there was ever any doubt the UCP learns nothing, this should dispel that.

    I doubt there was a miraculous change in character by Mr. Rehn, or that he is now warmly embraced by those in his constituency that he seemed so distant from before. Yes, Kenney may have had his share of largely self created problems over the last year, but I will give him credit for one thing – it seems he still knows how to count.

    The number of former UCP now independent MLAs was becoming too dangerously large. If Kenney were to need to kick one more out, they could form or join a party. So perhaps better for Kenney politically to adopt a revolving door approach now – one in, to give him the option of later putting one out, if necessary. For instance, maybe there is an independent MLA in Chestemere’s future sometime again.

    So the miraculous rehabilitation of Mr. Rehn is probably far less impressive than it is trying to be made to seem. In Kenney’s fun house mirror of Alberta politics things are often not as they are made to appear.

    1. Dave: I’m pretty sure you mean that Tanya Fir is back in cabinet. Ms. Allard’s banishment, it would seem , continues. DJ

  4. The ghost of Ralph Klein is laughing. If this doesn’t work, Kenney will have to give them back their MLA pensions.

  5. I believe a political party needs 4 MLAs to be recognized as a party in the Alberta Legislature, so having 3 Conservative MLAs sitting as independents could make poor Jason nervous. This does beg a further question, however: is Jason Kenney hearing rumors of possible defections, or is he anticipating needing to expel another MLA?

    I am also wondering what kind of promises were made to Pat Rehn to get him to release his contrite statement and rejoin caucus. Given his disinterest in actually doing the job he was elected to do, I think the easiest route for him to follow would be to sit as an independent, unless something was done to sweeten the pot.

  6. A vacillating opportunist. Any decision made by Jason Kenney has to take into account the exigencies of the moment and how it affects him personally. Like Colonel Cathcart from Catch 22…. everything is either a black eye or a feather in his cap. He will lose sleep at night figuring out ways to turn the black eyes to feathers. Every decision, every move ,every alliance.every fight picked is only about one thing … how does it make me look. In point of fact the political oppurtunist is quite possibly the worst leader you can have, read Donald J. Trump.

    The headline news story on the CBC evening news was the ” Critical ” nursing shortage in Montreal. Medical Professionals were interviewed for their ideas on recruiting Nurses, compare that with the headlines from Alberta and I think they have their answer.

  7. The unelected premier of Alberta, Stephen Harper, pops up like a Whack-a-Mole at the Stampede midway. Attendance at the big fair is down dramatically (why else would Stampede officials refuse to release attendance numbers?), but attendance by the Stephens Harper is up. Even Andrew Scheer was kicking around this week.

    Who is really running this province? Let me be clear, we sent Stephen Harper packing in 2015. We didn’t want him as PM. The man can’t take a hint. Doesn’t he have enough to do with his paid consultancy for Scott Moe in Saskatchewan? What is it with these transplanted Ontarians like Harper and Kenney? They won’t stop until they destroy Alberta and take Canada with it.

    1. It’s disturbing how Stephen Harper suddenly resurfaces to act as enforcer for his boy Jason. Harper hasn’t come far out of the shadows for years now. Maybe he was too busy with his consulting firm, Harper and Associates, telling Cons in other countries how to do politics. Or maybe the International Democrat Union, the OTHER right-wing clearing-house for tactics and propaganda, has occupied his attention.

      Harper also became unofficial ambassador-for-a-day for Justin Trudeau to the Trump White House. We still don’t know what Harper talked about, what promises he made, or whether he was just hitting up the Orange Orangutan for a donation to the IDU.

      Whatever he’s been up to, Harper is a blast from the past the whole country can do without. I wonder how Harper’s OTHER protégé, Erin O’Toole, feels about The Master backstopping Jason?

  8. It’s possible and possibly perverse that voters in Rehn’s Lesser Slave Lake riding would prefer to vote for the UCP but not for him, and that voters in either (or both) of Barnes’ and Loewen’s ridings would rather vote for them but not for the UCP.

    For a province which elected a ProgCon government for over four decades and, with a single, notable exception, a right-wing government for some eight decades, Alberta sure has compensated for the same-old-same-old by dallying in right-wing diversity these last few mandates. If any of these three tenterhook MLAs ever do form an alternative party of the right, maybe even one with official party status, I’m sure I’ll lose count of the impressive diversity Alberta has displayed at that end of the spectrum.

    Even if I did live and vote in Alberta (I’ve done the former on occasion but, as it happened, never the latter), I certainly wouldn’t be too troubled by the impressively diverse manifestations of right-wing grouchiness. I fact, I’d applaud their enlightenment all the way to the ballot box.

  9. Times are hard, indeed, when your best supporters are the ones you kicked out for non-performance. Kenney seems desperate to shore up the crumbling base of his personal support within the UCP.

    I’d really like to learn just who wrote all those letters of support for Rehn. If the people who complained loudest said, “Nobody asked us,” then who WAS asked?

    1. Jason Kenney’s plan for a future referendum on a provincial police force might help to explain. At today’s press conference, he said that maybe only those directly affected would be allowed to vote. Live in a city with city police? No vote for you.

      Perhaps those letters came from people directly affected by Pat Rehn: employees of his companies, family members, etc.? Live in his constituency? No vote or voice for you, because you are not directly affected by Pat Rehn, who is rarely there. Of course there is no reason to believe that such letters exist, because no one has seen them.

  10. I’m going to go out on a limb and make a stunning prediction that will come to pass.

    The return of Rehn and Fir into the caucus is not the result of some redemption on their part. Rather, it’s Premier Crying & Screaming Midget deciding that it’s not worth trying to do the right thing anymore.

    Breaking the COVID restrictions was something that Kenney didn’t have a problem with in the first place. He actually was more than willing to ignore anything that his partisans were doing that were clearly breaking restrictions. The punishments, suspensions, and expulsions he handed out were just for show to please the plebes who are stupid enough to take the pandemic seriously.

    I suspect that even Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen will soon be welcomed back into the caucus, because all they did was opposed the restrictions, which Kenney believed were a nuisance and largely unenforced anyway. Of course, Kenney can do this because the pandemic is over, so bygones really are bygones.

    Alberta is having the greatest summer of all time, the Calgary Stampede has never been busier, the global price of oil will soon hit $3,000 /barrel, pipelines will magically appear to everywhere, there will be such enormously damning information about PMJT that will be so compelling destructive, the CPC will win every seat in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and Ontario, and upon becoming PM Erin O’Toole will resign and award the office to Kenney, who is clearly the better man.

    Kenney has always been a gambler and has the greatest of winnings always on his mind. All he needs to do is throw the dice, and providence will always smile on him. He’s a born winner, that there can be no doubt about.

    As for Leela Aheer, well, she denounced the genocidal legacy of the Residential Schools and smeared the good name of John A. MacDonald, so ‘No Soup’ for her.

  11. I guess all the UCPers have kissed and made up this week.

    I wonder how long it will last???

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