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Brian Jean has no love for UCP in op-ed

Last Updated Jan 15, 2019 at 9:36 am MDT

Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean speaks to reporters at the Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton, Alta., on Monday, March 20, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Codie McLachlan

Former Wildrose leader Brian Jean lost his bid for leadership to Calgary-Lougheed MLA Jason Kenney.

Jean later retired from political life and announced earlier in the week he and wife Kim are expecting.

Former Wildrose leader Brian Jean is calling for Alberta to take action in a written piece that doesn’t exactly sound like a “ringing endorsement” of his former party.

In an op-ed over his Facebook page, Jean writes “Alberta and Canada are at a crossroads and our province needs strong and ethical leadership to deal with the economic and social issues we are facing.”

Jean calls Alberta’s future bleak and says immediate action must be taken.

“None of our political leaders understand the current anger of Albertans – Albertans want a “Mad as Hell” Party, that isn’t going to take it anymore,” he writes.

The former Fort McMurray Member of Parliament and Member of the Legislative Assembly says most Albertans recognize that the marriage between Alberta and the rest of Canada is deeply troubled.

He wants to make it clear that he’s not calling for separation and that he believes the marriage can be saved but adds Alberta needs to show some tough love.

He wants the province to force the federal government and the other provinces into constitutional negotiations.

“The top priority for Alberta should be re-opening the Constitution and getting a fair deal that returns Canada back to the original spirit of confederation,” he writes.

“But I am worried that no political party in Alberta is prepared to take up this fight. Some don’t have the stomach for it. Some prefer catering to elites instead of understanding Albertans’ anger. Some won’t risk offending future voters in other parts of Canada. None of them seem willing to gush other premiers to deal with the obvious problems facing confederation.”

Jean made some political circles ponder if he was making a return to the political ring with his family announcement.

Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams didn’t appear to be surprised by his comments.

“It’s clearly not an endorsement, it’s basically suggesting what’s being done currently is not effective in advocating for Alberta’s interests,” she said. “So he’s proposing something new. The question is what vehicle does he propose to sort of follow up on that proposal? Does he want to be someone who says things periodically for people to think about? Does he actually want to move this forward in some kind of formal way either through some kind of take to the road campaign?” she said.

Williams says he’s probably looking at advocating this from a party platform, whether that be the Freedom Conservative Party or Alberta Advantage Party, it’s too soon to say.

She says Jean has had two announcements that have left people wondering his future and what is he doing and if he doesn’t answer that question soon, people will start to get annoyed or bored.

“It was quite clear that Brian Jean was not happy and this was not the outcome he wanted,” Williams said of the leadership contest for the UCP. “And that some of the policies he wanted to advocate for are not being effectively advocated by the UCP or Jason Kenney.”

The political scientist says if these are ideas, she doesn’t believe he’ll go very far but if he ends up throwing his hat into a ring, he could make the provincial election very interesting.

“There are a number of socially conservative or at least further to the right in Alberta that are quite ideological and they want a party to represent that, they aren’t quite as concerned with electoral success,” she said. “And there is certainly an element of that with Brian Jean.”

Williams says this is not the time to be starting a party or throw your weight behind a party that’s not registering on peoples’ awareness given a spring election could be held within the coming weeks.

“The chances of whatever Brian Jean is up to having much of an impact, are remote. Now the good thing about what he’s saying is that he’s trying to say I understand the anger but there’s got to be more concrete discussion.”