The former leader of the Alberta Wildrose Party has won the United Conservative nomination in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche.
Brian Jean confirmed the news on his Facebook page, saying he was humbled by Albertans’ support and enthusiasm.
“The members of Fort McMurray – Lac La Biche have given me a mandate to push for renewal of the UCP and I expect that soon my constituents will give me a mandate to get Alberta back on track,” Jean wrote.
“Albertans are looking for hope and change and the UCP members in Fort McMurray – Lac La Biche voted for renewal this weekend.”
He says he will begin traveling the province and his own riding to drum up UCP support and to campaign against the NDP, which he says doesn’t have the right solutions for Alberta.
Jean’s victory could have ripple effects further south than the northern Alberta town.
The former Harper-era cabinet minister has made no secret of the fact he opposes Premier Jason Kenney.
He has said if the premier doesn’t resign–and the UCP doesn’t make big changes–Rachel Notley and the NDP will win an overwhelming majority in the next election.
Jean says trust in the premier has become a major issue with people he is talking to.
“They say the problem with the UCP is Jason Kenney and they won’t vote for the UCP as long as he’s there, and the longer he’s there, the more people I hear from who say they’re not going to vote for the UCP at all,” Jean said.
Jean says trust is something that needs to happen in the UCP, not just for Albertans but for party membership.
Within the party, he says, there is still mistrust stemming from the leadership race which continues to be investigated by the RCMP.
Jean has said he wants the premier to step down and will not be giving him support during his leadership review.
He also has his eye on Kenney’s job if he loses it.
Kenney has questioned Jean’s reliability.
“Mr. Jean has been trying to destabilize our party for going on three -years now. I regard that as a distraction, we are focused on doing the people’s business, right now? Economic recovery,” Kenney said last month after Jean announced he’d be seeking the party nomination.
“I’m happy for this government to be judged by our results, I’m not going to be distracted by somebody trying to settle scores with internal political games.”
Jean is running in the riding’s by-election to fill the void left by Laila Goodridge, who left provincial politics to run in the 2021 federal election.
Jean’s byelection hasn’t been set yet but would have to happen no later than mid-March.
-with files from Saif Kaisar, Lisa Grant, and Josh Ritchie