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Commentary: Expect the unexpected in final weeks

Should a leadership be automatically triggered, it would likely be one of the most hotly contested mid-term political campaigns ever held in Alberta

With the United Conservative Party (UCP) review of Jason Kenney’s leadership now in the final stretch, the outcome of the political probe remains anyone’s guess.

Whether Kenney manages to survive the review and continue on through the 2023 provincial election or if he fails to garner the necessary votes to prevent a leadership race, the impact on Alberta will be significant.

UCP members have until May 11 to get their votes in, with the final results scheduled to be released on May 18.

If Kenney fails to garner 50 per cent plus one approval in the review, a UCP leadership race would be automatically triggered.

And should that happen the race would likely be one of the most hotly contested mid-term political campaigns ever held in Alberta.

For his part, Kenney has already said that a leadership battle would be bad for the party and province.

“I truly fear that if we choose the path of division, it will drive a wedge right down the middle of our party from which we may never again recover, and there is only one person who wins from that, and her name is Rachel Notley (NDP leader),” said Kenney.

Brian Jean, Kenney’s principal rival at this stage, says without new leadership the party could very well lose the next election to the NDP.

“I believe that if this race is fair that Mr. Kenney will receive a clear signal from Albertans to leave,” Jean told the Albertan.

With their political future at stake, Jason Kenney and his close supporters are sure to pull out all the stops over the next two weeks in the attempt come out on top in the leadership review.

What those measures might be – and whether they might include huge taxpayer-funded program announcements aimed at garnering support for the premier – remains to be seen.

Nonetheless, with the results of the UCP leadership review sure to impact Alberta’s political scene for many months to come, Albertans everywhere will be anxiously awaiting the much-anticipated results.

Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.