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Commentary: Premier Kenney on the way out?

Premier Kenney is set to face a leadership review next year

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across Alberta, with more than 1,000 new cases now commonly identified every day, the calls for Premier Jason Kenney to do more have, if anything, have grown stronger in recent weeks.

Supporters of restrictions have been calling on the premier to impose even tougher measures, including lockdowns and much more stringent enforcement of the rules.

On the other hand, opponents of the restrictions, including the vocal anti-mask lobby, have been calling for all businesses and organizations to be allowed to return to pre-pandemic rules.

Of course criticism of government policies comes with the territory and is something every regime faces from time to time. As a veteran politician, Jason Kenney can probably well attest to the old adage that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Yet in recent weeks, Kenney’s critics have come not only from the left and right, but also from within his own ranks. And that may not bode well for his long-term leadership prospects.

The decision by more than a dozen government members of MLAs — including Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper — to oppose new restrictions must be seen to be a heavy blow to Kenney’s leadership.

“We believe yesterday’s (Apr. 6) announcement to move our province backward, effectively abandoning the plan that Albertans have worked diligently over the past month to follow, is the wrong direction,” the rogue MLAs said.

And recent week’s published reports that a letter from UCP members is now circulating among party ridings boards calling for Kenney to immediately step down as leader is more bad news for the first-term premier.

“Mr. Kenney, for the sake of a strong and free Alberta and for the well-being of the conservative movement in this province, we ask that you do the proper thing and resign,” the letter reportedly states.

Premier Kenney is set to face a leadership review next year. Whether he makes it that far now remains anyone’s guess.

Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan.

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