Alberta MP Michelle Rempel Garner ponders running for UCP leadership

OTTAWA — Michelle Rempel Garner, a star of Canada’s conservative movement, said late Thursday that she is considering a bid for the leadership of Alberta’s United Conservative Party and is relinquishing her job to become one of the frontrunners in the leadership race of Alberta. to help the federal party.

Rumors that Rempel Garner would take the top job at the UCP surfaced almost immediately after current leader, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, made the surprising choice to announce he would step down despite narrowly winning a leadership review. last month.

She has been a vocal advocate for the province from her position in Ottawa, where she has served as the MP for Calgary Nose Hill since 2011.

In 2020, she wrote the so-called Buffalo Declaration, which called for constitutional and other changes to raise Alberta’s place within the Confederacy.

“Alberta is – and always has been – my top priority. Today I can confirm that I am seriously considering a provincial leadership offer,” she said in a statement on social media on Thursday evening.

“I owe it to the Albertans to give this crucial decision my full attention.”

As such, Rempel Garner said, she will no longer participate in the federal conservative leadership race.

In March, she had volunteered to co-chair the campaign for Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, highlighting the work he’s done building bridges with multicultural communities and saying he’s also aligned with the needs of the West. .

In addition to her advocacy for Alberta, Rempel Garner has also urged the party to more fully embrace LGBTQ rights, and has spoken publicly in recent months about the need for conservatives to do more to summon conspiracy theorists to their ranks.

She has also been candid about the harassment and abuse she has faced as a parliamentarian, and her decision to support Brown has drawn criticism from some of his rivals, as he has been accused of sexual misconduct in the past. He denies those allegations.

Her departure marks another blow to his campaign, reducing his public support among elected Conservative MPs to just one.

Two others broke his bid last week, citing a desire to rally around Brown’s main rival, Pierre Poilievre.

The UCP race is scheduled for October 6, and if Rempel Garner jumps in, she will join a packed field.

Eight other contenders have already declared they want the job, including former children’s services minister Rebecca Schulz, former finance minister Travis Toews and former transport minister Rajan Sawhney, all of whom have stepped down from their provincial cabinet positions to avoid conflicts of interest.

Brian Jean, the former Wildrose Party leader who ran and lost to Kenney in the UCP’s 2017 leadership race, is also in the running. The UCP was a merger of its old party and the Progressive Conservatives.

Party leadership contests in Alberta have traditionally been hard-fought, divisive.

The Progressive Conservatives ruled the province for 44 years, so many saw winning a leadership election as a practical guarantee of becoming prime minister.

For years, the UCP has faced divisions over Kenney’s leadership, policy struggles, battles with unions and criticism of the government’s COVID-19 response.

It’s a climate Rempel Garner is familiar with — earlier this year, grumbling and division within the federal conservative caucus also cost their leader, Erin O’Toole, his job.

She was one of his few vocal supporters, and after he was ousted by MPs, she was removed from the front benches in the House of Commons by interim leader Candice Bergen.

Rempel Garner said whoever chooses the UCP as its next leader should be ready to work it out with the federal government and the provincial NDP.

“With the cost of living spiraling out of control and a federal Liberal (government) hostile to Alberta’s interests, it is critical to elect a leader who can defeat their NDP allies in next provincial election.” years,” she wrote.

“We cannot allow the NDP – or Justin Trudeau – to squander Alberta’s future.”

With files by Kieran Leavitt

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