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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney meets with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin on April 13, 2022.
Credit – Senator Joe Manchin, Public Domain

Jason Kenney scraped out a very narrow win in a referendum on his leadership, but he surprised everyone by stepping down as leader of the UPC. on Wednesday.

The Alberta premier announced the news Wednesday after earning just 51.4 percent support in a leadership review. Technically, according to CTV News Canada, Kenney remains Alberta’s premier. 

“The result is not what I hoped for, or frankly what I expected,” said Kenney. “But I’ve been clear from day one, that I will respect the decision of the members in this leadership review.”

Politico notes that Lenney has always said he considered anything over 50 percent a passing grade, but he admitted Wednesday that “it would be inadequate to get by on a squeaker.”

“A large number of our members want to clear the air with a leadership election,” Kenney said. “I fully respect their decision, and I encourage all members to do the same.”

The referendum asked a simple question of the Conservative Party members that needed a yes or no answer: “Do you approve of the current leader?”

Of the 34,298 party members who mailed in ballots by the May 11 deadline, 17,638 said yes and 16,660 said no, according to CBC Canada.

Kenney said he advised party president Cynthia Moore of his intention to step down and asked that the party schedule a leadership election as soon as possible. The caucus meeting was held Thursday morning at the McDougall Centre in Calgary.

The caucus is supposed to vote for an interim party leader and premier “at the earliest possible opportunity,” according to the party’s governance manual.

Kenney has faced low polling numbers with most public polls over the past 18 months, suggesting the NDP could regain a majority government next year. Voices within the UCP say the party needs to find a new leader to prevent that from happening. 

And here is an interesting revelation – CTV News is saying “there is one notable caveat to the election of an interim leader: Whoever is selected will not be able to put their name forward to be UCP leader.”

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