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Politics Briefing: Canada offers additional aid to Ukraine, Freeland pledges more to come – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

As Canada offered more aid for Ukraine on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said additional economic measures are to be announced in coming days.

During a news conference, Ms. Freeland, also the Finance Minister, said some plans have been informed by “creative ideas” advanced Tuesday by Ukraine’s embattled Finance Minister during talks with other G7 counterparts.

She did not elaborate. However, Ms. Freeland noted that Canada is carefully reviewing the holdings, in this country, of all Russian oligarchs and companies in Canada.

“Everything is on the table,” said Ms. Freeland.

She said Russian interests in Canada are less significant than those in partner countries, but the federal government is looking at them closely, and she promised additional measures soon.

Canada has previously announced direct sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of a third set of severe, co-ordinated sanctions against the country that also includes measures against Russia’s Foreign Minister, and Putin’s chief of staff.

On Tuesday, Defence Minister Anita Anand, at the same news conference, said Canada is sending 1,600 fragmentation vests and just under 400,000 individual meal packs to assist in the Ukrainians’ fight against Russia.

That aid was promised after commitments this week that Canada will send 100 Carl Gustav anti-tank weapon systems and 2,000 rockets to Ukraine. The rockets are fired from the Swedish-made systems. Story here.

Canada has already sent nearly $8-milion in weapons, such as machine guns, carbines and 1.5 million rounds of ammunition, to Ukraine as well as non-lethal aid including helmets and night-vision goggles. Last week, Canada announced it would send additional protective gear, valued at $25-million, to Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Canada said it will provide $100-million in new humanitarian assistance to the United Nations to support aid operations in Ukraine and refugees in neighbouring countries. Story here.

The Deputy Prime Minister also warned, without providing specifics, of possible adverse consequences for Canada given measures taken against Russia. “I have to be honest with Canadians that there could be some collateral damage in Canada,” she said, noting the G7 finance ministers discussed the issue.

“Canadians are smart. I think Canadians understand the stakes of this fight.”

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

RUSSIAN SHIPS BANNED FROM CANADIAN WATERS – Ottawa is banning Russian-owned and registered ships from Canadian ports and waters. Story here.

CANADA SUPPORTS UKRAINE ON ICC – Canada says it’s going to help Ukraine expedite its petition to the International Criminal Court to probe alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russian forces, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says.

COVERING THE WAR IN UKRAINE – Senior international correspondent Mark MacKinnon writes here on the realities of covering the war in Ukraine. “But while Ukrainians have no shortage of battle experience and courage, other things are becoming scarce. At our safe house, food supplies had dwindled down to only a bit of cheese, a few bags of nuts, half a pack of spaghetti and few loose pieces of fruit – after which we’d have to start eating from our strategic reserve of cereal bars and noodle pots.”

RUSSIANS IN CANADA FEAR BACKLASH; UKRAINIAN RESTAURANTS SEE RUSH OF CUSTOMERS – As the Ukraine conflict rages on, Russians in Canada fear guilt by association. Story here. Meanwhile, some of Canada’s Ukrainian restaurants are seeing a rush of customers amid the Russian invasion as they look to bounce back from COVID-19 restrictions. Story here.

UPDATES: Watch here for the latest updates on the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

MEANWHILE

INCREASING FEDERAL DEBT COSTS – The cost of financing the federal debt is projected to exceed $40-billion a year by 2025-26 – more than double the cost at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux that says Canada’s debt costs will grow more quickly than what the government has forecast. Story here.

LIBERALS PUSH ACTION ON EMERGENCIES ACT COMMITTEE – The federal Liberals are pushing ahead with a motion to create an oversight committee that will review the government’s invocation of the never-before-used Emergencies Act, forcing a vote on the matter over the objections of the opposition Conservatives. Story here.

CHAREST CLEARED – An anti-corruption probe into the fundraising activities of the Quebec Liberal Party while Jean Charest was leader and premier has ended without charges being laid, as Mr. Charest considers a bid for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party. Story here.

EUROPE ‘WEAK’ ON RUSSIA: POILIEVRE – Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, the only declared candidate for the party’s leadership, is slamming Europe’s response to the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, saying in a social-media post that the continent’s leaders have been “weak” in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression. Story here from CBC.

PLANS RESTARTED TO BRING CIVIL SERVANTS BACK TO OFFICES – Federal government departments are restarting plans to bring thousands of public servants back to the office as provinces lift pandemic restrictions that forced them to work from home. Story here from Policy Options.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected order of business at the House of Commons, March. 1, accessible here.

‘THAT IS AN INDIVIDUAL DECISION’: DEFENCE MINISTER ON CANADIANS WHO WANT TO FIGHT IN UKRAINE – Defence Minister Anita Anand was asked, after a cabinet meeting Tuesday, about Canadians who want to fight in Ukraine. “In terms of the Canadians who might want to fight, I truly understand that decision process, especially those who have Ukrainian roots,” she said. “I will say that is an individual decision that Canadians are making for themselves, and our job as a government is to provide information about the severity of the situation on the ground in Ukraine.”

NEW OFFICIAL LANGUAGES BILL – Official Languages Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor has introduced Bill C-13: An Act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act and to make related amendments to other Acts. In a statement, Ms. Taylor’s department said measures of the legislation include addressing the decline of French in Canada, and improving compliance by federal institutions concerning official languages. Details here.

HEARING ON DESECRATION OF VETERANS MONUMENTS – The standing committee on veterans affairs is holding a meeting Tuesday night on the desecration of monuments honouring veterans. One witness is listed: Steven Clark, national executive director of the Royal Canadian Legion. The hearing is scheduled to run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET. There are details on the meeting here.

DAVIS MEMORIAL IN THE WORKS – The Ontario government is committing up to $150,000 to Brampton to support a memorial honouring the legacy of William G. Davis, Ontario’s 18th premier and a lifelong resident of the city. A professional artist will be commissioned to create a memorial honouring Mr. Davis, who was premier from 1971 to 1985. Mr. Davis died last August at 92. Brampton intends to unveil the new memorial, located in Brampton’s Gage Park, later this year.

THE DECIBEL – On Tuesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, international correspondent Nathan VanderKlippe reports from the tiny, landlocked country of Moldova the destination for 70,000 people from Ukraine since the start of the conflict with Russia. Mr. VanderKlippe talks about the people fleeing Ukraine and how bordering countries are responding to the crisis. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister chairs the cabinet meeting, and is scheduled to attend Question Period. He is also scheduled to attend a virtual event held by the embassy of Ireland to celebrate the start of Irish Heritage Month.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet holds a Parliament Hill press briefing on the party’s opposition day plans.

Green Party interim Leader Amita Kuttner holds a Parliament Hill press conference to address the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh met with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and was scheduled to attend Question Period.

No schedule released for the Conservative party leader.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how President Vladimir Putin’s deadly miscalculation has united the world against him: “The supposed grandmaster-level strategic genius has painted himself into a corner. This is what is known as the cornered-rat problem. And given that this cornered dictator has one of the world’s most powerful militaries, including the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, Mr. Putin’s dilemma is also the entire world’s. As strange as it sounds, Western diplomacy has to aim not only at deterring and defeating Mr. Putin. It also has to offer him a way out of Ukraine, and his own folly.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how Donald Trump’s comments on President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau place Canada’s Conservatives and Pierre Poilievre in a difficult spot: ”Donald Trump has long been an admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin. When that suddenly became awkward, a few days ago, the former president and presumptive Republican nominee in 2024 crafted a new mantra: The Russian government is bad for invading Ukraine, but the Canadian government is worse for shutting down the protests in Ottawa. This is a problem for those Conservatives who stood with the horn-honking truckers and their supporters in opposing pandemic measures. Leadership contender Pierre Poilievre, in particular, championed their cause. Now the MAGA crowd has granted that cause the moral equivalency of Ukrainians resisting a Russian invasion. This is not a good look.”

Yasuko Thanh (contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how anger at B.C. parliament protests was a reflection of her own privilege: “And it came to me with the clarity of the glass I was washing, in my own sink whose faucet produces safe water to drink. My anger toward the people protesting was nothing less then a reflection of my own privilege. Because the people on whose behalf I was outraged were too busy fighting things big enough to kill them. Too busy counting graves. Too busy unpacking the legacy of slavery. Or perhaps, like Bob Marley, they were asking us to sing, not songs of oppression, not songs of being beaten down, but songs of freedom.”

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Politics Podcast: What Tuesday’s Primaries Could Mean For November – FiveThirtyEight

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FiveThirtyEight

 

In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew reacts to the outcome of Tuesday’s primaries in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky, Idaho and Oregon. The results were mixed in terms of which factions in both parties did well. The marquee Republican Senate race in Pennsylvania is still too close to call, and at least two Trump endorsees lost: North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn and Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

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Politics Briefing: Jason Kenney steps down as UCP leader after receiving 51-per-cent support in leadership review – The Globe and Mail

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is stepping down as leader of the United Conservative Party after receiving 51-per-cent support in a review of his leadership by the party he helped create.

It marks a political turning point for a leading figure in conservative circles in Canada, a former federal Conservative cabinet minister who has also been an outspoken critic of the federal Liberal government, particularly over its policies on the energy sector.

Moments after the results of the vote by members of the United Conservative Party were announced Wednesday evening, Mr. Kenney announced his plans to exit.

“The result is not what I hoped or frankly what I expected,” Mr. Kenney told supporters. “While 51 per cent of the vote passes the constitutional threshold of a majority, it clearly is not adequate support to continue on as leader.”

As a result, Mr. Kenney said he had informed the UCP president of his intention to step down as leader.

“We need to move forward united. We need to put the past behind us,” he said.

The question before the 59,000 Albertans who have UCP memberships was “Do you approve of the current leader.” A total of 34,298 votes were cast.

A total 17,638 voters – or 51. 4 per cent – said Yes, and 16,660 – or 48.6 per cent – said No.

Mr. Kenney had said that 50 per cent plus one would be a win in the outcome of the vote.

As energy reporter Emma Graney and Calgary reporter Carrie Tait reported earlier here, the vote marks the culmination of two years of open dissent within Mr. Kenney’s caucus from party members and MLAs unhappy with pandemic restrictions and Mr. Kenney’s leadership style.

After 19 years as an MP, Mr. Kenney resigned his parliamentary seat in 2016 to seek the leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives.

He won the leadership in 2017 after campaigning to merge the PCs with the Wildrose Party. Once the merger came about that year, Mr. Kenney was elected leader of the resulting United Conservative Party and led the UCP to a majority government in the province’s 2019 general election.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

FAST OUT AS CONSERVATIVE FINANCE CRITIC – British Columbia MP Ed Fast is out as official opposition finance critic over his support of former Quebec premier Jean Charest in the race for the leadership of the federal Conservatives. Story here.

INFLATION HITS 31-YEAR HIGH – Canada’s inflation rate hit another record in April as groceries and other everyday items escalated in price, a troubling development for many workers who aren’t seeing their wages keep pace and for central bankers trying to bring inflation back to target levels. Story here.

ROYAL TOUR UNDER WAY, WITH OTTAWA STOP – On Wednesday, Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, embarked on the second day of a visit to Canada, with stops throughout Ottawa designed to recognize pressing issues, including the displacement of Ukrainians because of Russia’s invasion. Earlier this week, Prince Charles acknowledged that the tour has arrived at a time of historic reckoning with Indigenous people. Story here. There’s a Globe and Mail Explainer on the tour here.

RUSSIA CLOSES CBC MOSCOW BUREAU – Russia’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday that it was closing the Moscow bureau of Canada’s CBC and withdrawing visas and accreditation from the public broadcaster’s journalists after Ottawa banned Russian state TV station Russia Today. Story here.

TRUDEAU FACES SUPREME-COURT CHOICE – Globe and Mail Justice Writer Sean Fine looks here at Prime Minister’s Justin Mr. Trudeau’s options as he considers a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Michael Moldaver, who retires on Sept.1.

OTTAWA POLICE DIDN’T ASK FOR EMERGENCIES ACT – The Ottawa Police Service did not make a direct appeal for the invocation of the federal Emergencies Act, its interim chief says. Story here.

NO TIMELINE ON GENDER-VIOLENCE ACTION PLAN DESPITE GOVERNMENT COMMITMENT – Sixteen months after the federal and provincial governments issued a joint declaration that they would work toward creating “a Canada free of gender-based violence,” there is still no timeline for when the country’s first-ever national action plan to achieve that goal will actually be implemented. Story here.

UPTICK IN TRAVEL PLACES PRESSURE ON PASSPORT OFFICERS: UNION – The union representing Canada’s passport officers says its members are facing verbal abuse, stress and long hours as they continue to respond to an overwhelming surge in applications prompted by an uptake in travel after the lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions. Story here.

ONTARIO ELECTION – The first edition of Vote of Confidence, the Globe and Mail’s new guide on learning the ins and outs of the biggest issues in the Ontario election is here.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS ‐ Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, May 18, accessible here.

TOP POLITICAL BOOK – Toronto Star journalist Joanna Chiu has won the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for her book China Unbound: A New World Disorder, published by House of Anansi Press. She was named the winner at a gala on Tuesday night. Story here.

COMMITTEE MEETINGS – House of Commons committee meetings Wednesday include the standing committee on health holding a hearing on the Emergency Situation Facing Canadians in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic – details here. Also, the standing committee on national defence will be looking at Rising Domestic Operational Deployments and Challenges for the Canadian Armed Forces – details here.

GOVERNOR GENERAL IN B.C. – Governor-General Mary Simon, and her husband, Whit Fraser, will be visiting British Columbia between Friday and next Tuesday, with stops that include the Governor-General delivering remarks at a memorial event commemorating one year since the confirmation of unmarked graves at a residential school in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. It also includes meetings with Premier John Horgan and Indigenous leaders, and a meeting with University of Victoria students.

JOLY IN NEW YORK – Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is in New York City on Wednesday, beginning a two-day visit to attend meetings at United Nations Headquarters and with other foreign ministers to discuss a co-ordinated response to the global food-security crisis. The trip includes meetings with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and additional senior UN officials.

FREELAND IN GERMANY – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, also the Finance Minister, is in Bonn to attend the G7 finance ministers and central-bank governors meeting and a working dinner,. The event is being hosted by German Finance Minister Christian Lindner and Deutsche Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel.

THE DECIBEL

On Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, wildlife pathologist Brian Stevens talks about this year’s deadly avian flu which has spread from poultry to wild animals, with reports of birds suffering from neurological symptoms, dropping dead from trees and twitching uncontrollably. Nearly two million birds have already died from the avian flu this year in Canada alone. Dr. Stevens talks about how this strain is different, what experts are watching out for, and how to prevent further spread. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

The Prime Minister held private meetings, spoke to Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin, and attended the national Liberal caucus meeting. He was also scheduled to attend Question Period. As part of the royal visit, the Prime Minister was scheduled to have a private audience with The Prince of Wales., and to participate, with the prince, in a discussion on sustainable finance in combating climate change and building a net-zero economy. Also, the Prime Minister and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, were to attend a reception at Rideau Hall, hosted by Governor-General Mary Simon to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet held a media scrum at the House of Commons regarding the royal visit and its costs as well as the protection of the French language. He also attended Question Period.

Interim Conservative Party Leader Candice Bergen attended Question Period.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh attended the NDP national caucus meeting, held a news conference on the cost of living and was scheduled to participate in Question Period.

No schedules released for other party leaders

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on whether it is time to end Canada’s last remaining COVID travel restrictions: But we supported prudent, measured public-health restrictions. So did the majority of Canadians. In the fog of the pandemic war, mistakes were made, such as keeping schools in some provinces shuttered far too long. But many other impositions were the least bad options, under the circumstances. And they worked. Last week, the number of COVID-related deaths in Canada reached 40,000. It’s a terrible toll. But the same week, the United States reached one million, a death rate three times higher. Government and individual action made the difference – notably Canada’s vaccination rate, which is among the highest in the world. But Canadians’ acceptance of public-health restrictions was always dependent on the assumption that what would be asked of them would go on no longer than necessary, and would be based on the best science. As things change, policy would evolve.“

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the Canada Infrastructure Bank: good idea in principle, bad idea in practice: “That the Government of Canada abolish the Canada Infrastructure Bank.” That was the striking recommendation of the Commons Transport committee in its recent report on the CIB – striking, both because of its finality (end it, don’t mend it) and because it was the only recommendation in the report. Not that anyone should have been altogether surprised, given the predispositions of the three opposition parties in support, who together make up a majority of the committee (its Liberal members dissented).”

Colin Busby (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Employment Insurance is a confusing mess in need of urgent reform: “One message came through loud and clear: the current EI system, with its many layers of complexity and glaring gaps in coverage, has become increasingly ineffective, especially when facing economic shocks. For many Canadians, EI is an extremely complex program to understand and navigate. The introduction and expansion of special benefits – such as maternity and parental benefits, sickness and caregiving leave – has created more than 200 ways in which all EI benefits can overlap with one another. This hodgepodge can confuse even the most informed citizens. And it’s one reason why simplicity should be an overarching principle to guide reforms.”

Ralph Heintzman (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on what we ignore when we talk about abolishing the monarchy: So, abolition of the Crown in Canada is simply not worth talking about, for least another generation, because it simply cannot be done. Efforts to generate such discussion are a waste of time – time that would be better spent examining the uses and potential of the institution we have, and will have for the foreseeable future.”

Huda Idrees (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Canadians should not be smug whenever there is pain and death to our south: “Diversity is our strength” is a catchy motto that leaders across all levels of government love to quote, but they’re empty words unless we challenge and change racist laws. We have to investigate the rise in hate crimes across Canada, and we have to stop normalizing obvious white supremacist trends disguised under the banner of “freedom.” A good first step on this journey would be to stop using the pain of victims of domestic terrorism in other countries as opportunities to gloat.”

Don Braid (The Calgary Herald) on MLAs jockeying for position ahead of results of a review of Jason Kenney’s leadership of the United Conservative Party: “While Premier Jason Kenney confidently talks about a majority win for his leadership Wednesday, some people in his caucus and government have another subject entirely. They’re speculating about who will be the new premier as early as Thursday, when a full UCP caucus meeting is scheduled at McDougall Centre from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.”

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Alberta premier Jason Kenney steps down as UCP leader after narrow leadership win

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has stepped down as leader of the United Conservative Party after narrowly winning the party’s leadership vote.

Kenney received 51.4 per cent support in voting results released tonight in Calgary.

He told supporters that the number is not what he hoped for and is not enough for him to continue on as leader.

If Kenney had received less than 50 per cent plus one, he would have had to quit as per party rules and a leadership contest would have been called.

Normally, leaders consider 75 to 80 per cent — or higher — the minimum credible mandate to continue leading their party.

Kenney had earlier said he would accept a slim majority, because the voting pool was skewed by last-minute members interested only in scuttling his big-tent conservative party.

“While 51 per cent of the vote passes the constitutional threshold of a majority, it clearly is not adequate support to continue on as leader,” Kenney said.

“I’ve informed the president of the party of my intention to step down as leader of the United Conservative Party,” he said to gasps in the audience.

“We need to move forward united. We need to put the past behind us. And a large number of our members have asked for an opportunity to clear the air through a leadership election.”

The leadership review took on heightened importance over the past year as Kenney was buffeted by poor polling numbers, sluggish fundraising and open dissent from some in his party and caucus.

It was also punctuated by controversy. It had already been delayed by a year when it was set for an in-person ballot on April 9 in Red Deer, Alta.

When 15,000 members signed up — five times more than expected — the party said it couldn’t handle the logistics and moved to a mail-in ballot open to all 59,000 members.

Critics said the change was made to give Kenney the edge as it appeared he was going to lose the in-person vote.

Elections Alberta is also investigating allegations of illegal bulk buying of memberships in the review. And the party remains under investigation by the RCMP over allegations of criminal identity fraud in the 2017 contest that saw Kenney elected leader.

Kenney had made it clear that the vote and open dissent had become a “soap opera” distracting the party facing a provincial election next May.

He also said that if he got the required support, he would expect dissenters in his caucus to rally behind him or face unnamed consequences.

Two backbenchers who openly criticized Kenney last year — Todd Loewen and Drew Barnes — were voted out of caucus and sit as Independents.

Backbenchers Jason Stephan, Peter Guthrie and Brian Jean — who helped Kenney found the UCP — have been the most vocal. They openly urged the premier to resign for the good of the party.

Kenney has tried to downplay the dissent by tying it directly to unhappiness over COVID-19 restrictions his government bought in to try to stop the spread of the virus.

Opponents in caucus say the dissatisfaction is also over Kenney’s policies and management style, which they deem to be top-down, dismissive and undemocratic. They say Kenney has not done enough to gain a better deal for Alberta with the federal government on shared programs.

Conservative leaders in Alberta have not fared well after middling votes in leadership reviews.

Former Progressive Conservative premier Ralph Klein left after getting 55 per cent of the vote in 2006. Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford received 77 per cent in their reviews, but stepped down from the top job when the party pushed back.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2022.

 

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