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Hot Talk – UCP Party Leadership & The Power Games

On Saturday January 8, 2022 our local MLA Aheer held her annual General Meeting to elect the Board of Directors for 2022. Normally this event is well attended, but this past AGM saw a whole new crowd of people; most of whom had not shown any interest in serving on the Chestermere-Strathmore Board until that day. What brought this huge new crowd out? In my opinion, this nothing short of a strategic takeover, orchestrated by the UCP Leadership. 

This past year we have seen MLA Aheer speak out against Premier Jason Kenney’s lack of leadership, poor governance and questionable actions. This has definitely put Kenny in the spotlight and not in a good way. His reaction to any criticism seems to be a flexing of the UCP Leadership muscle through The Power Games; a thinly veiled plan to get control of the Boards of dissident MLAs.  

On January 12, 2022, Calgary Herald columnist, Don Braid, reported on the surprise upheaval of MLA Aheer’s Board: https://calgaryherald.com/opinion/columnists/braid-blowup-in-leela-aheers-riding-foreshadows-kenney-leadership-vote

In his article, Braid reports that the past (or possibly present) Riding President John Kittler has written to UCP party president Cynthia Moore, stating his objection to the proceedings. Kittler said the vote was illegitimate because new members had been added to the list after a cut-off date. “UCP staff distributed ballots based on that list to a number of those ineligible persons who then voted at the AGM,” he wrote. Kittler said he was “denied access” to the party’s membership site, and so had no idea new members had been added after the deadline. “The Board has determined that the ineligible votes cast at the AGM were sufficient in number to invalidate the AGM in its entirety,” Kittler said. And so, the board “will continue to manage and administer the affairs of the Chestermere-Strathmore Constituency Association.”

By Wednesday January 12th, executive director Dustin Van Vugt sent a response. “I have personally investigated the matter and can advise that the allegations are unfounded,” he wrote. The members on the list were “all in good standing.” Van Vugt argued that the requests were submitted before the cut-off deadline and not yet processed, but “those memberships would be valid at the time they were received by the party.” Then came a sharp warning. “To be clear,” he said directly to Kittler, “you are not the president and must cease purporting to represent yourself as the president.”  

At the time of this writing, the final outcome of this skirmish is not determined, but one thing seems very clear and that is Jason Kenny and the UCP Leadership are not going to sit back passively and allow dissenting MLAs to forge onward. Between all the bad press the UCP Party ha s received, along with the rising star of former federal MP and Wildrose leader Brian Jean, who recently won the UCP Candidate election for the Lac La Biche/ Fort McMurray, Kenny will have to pull all the rabbits out of his hat to keep his magic show alive. What does this entail? One never knows with the UCP Leadership, but one thing to keep an eye in is the recently passed Bill C-81. The legal jargon of politics is enough to make most of us dizzy and Bill c-81 is certainly a twister! In a nutshell, this bill allows individuals or organizations to buy bulk memberships for other people, up to $4,000.00 – with or without their consent or knowledge! In a Globe and Mail article written by Carrie Tait, published on Dec. 12, 2021, Tait reports that critics have called the bill undemocratic – in part because, they say, it tacitly approves of political parties selling memberships in bulk and stifling free speech. Here’s the link for more of the story: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/alberta/article-what-is-bill-81-albertas-newly-passed-election-law/

I am currently a UCP Member in good standing, however, over this past year, I have come to question if Premier Kenny and his UCP Leadership are in good standing with me. Perhaps I am not alone in this doubt. While I felt that the NDP went too far to the left doing serious damage to Alberta’s image and economy, I now feel that the UCP Leadership is leaning too far to the right, pandering to it’s supporters and engaging in unsavoury behaviour.

Truth, transparency, and integrity is now on the endangered species list. It gets harder and harder for me to have faith in our governing bodies. If they want to govern me, they must first prove they can govern themselves! I want a leader that is less interested in playing political power games (like what we saw this past Saturday at MLA Aheer’s AGM) and more interested in empowering its citizens. I want a leader who will stand up for everyone, not just their inner circle of entitled cohorts. I want a leader who is not afraid to risk their own political future to save a citizen’s present. Is this too much to ask? 

MLA Aheer spoke out against Kenny and his UCP Leadership along with many other MLAs. It appears they are now being targeted by their party. Some people may say this is what happens when you criticize your leader. While others may believe that leadership that demands 100% subservience is not true leadership, but something else – something arrogant, narrow minded, self-serving and ultimately susceptible to deceit, decay and dissolvement. The so-called dissident MLAs did not do something wrong – they did something right. They spoke out for truth, justice, accountability and good leadership. MLA Aheer and her peers have become an inconvenient reminder of all that is wrong with Kenny’s UCP party leadership.

This is my opinion, what’s yours?

Party MLAs should be able to publicly disagree with their leader.

Comment below to join the Hot Talk in the City online conversation!

As a final note to readers, this will be my last HOT Talk in the City article for a while. I will be focussing on my Pathways Coaching column and radio show over the next few months. It has been a great honour to have the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and hear yours! Thanks 

About the author

Karen McKee

Karen McKee

Karen McKee moved to Chestermere from Thunder Bay, Ontario in 2012. She and her husband of 42 years live a very active life with a family of 4 children and 1 grandson. Her earlier work career was in sales & marketing. In 2014 she became a Certified Coach Practitioner and in 2015 she formed her company PathwaysCoaching.
Karen volunteers in our community for multiple activities and events.
She is passionate about excellence in leadership and good governance and hopes to share that passion with others through her writing.

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