Progressive Conservative leadership hopefuls Stephen Khan and Richard Starke are both questioning if Jason Kenney is intentionally trying to make the PC party look bad.
PC leadership contender Jason Kenney has been under investigation for three infractions since the race officially began in early November. Stephen Khan and Richard Starke think he may be attempting to discredit the party in his attempt to merge with the Wildrose party.
Kenney has been slapped with a $5,000 fine from the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta (PCAA) after an investigation into his team’s actions at the first delegate selection meeting.
The constituency chief returning officer Ron Dunseith recommended that Kenney pay $5,000 of his $20,000 rule compliance bond after complaints were filed against him for renting a suite in the same building as the delegate selection meeting.
Starke and Khan both see his infractions as a lack of leadership and point out that no other candidates are having issues following the rules.
This was the second in a series of three infractions Kenney is being investigated for. The first happened at the Red Deer convention in early November when his supporters were accused of the bullying of then leadership hopeful and current MLA Sandra Jansen. She has since left the party to join the NDP, citing the bullying as her primary reason for crossing the floor.
Finally, a complaint is being filed against Mr. Kenney for his action at the Spruce Grove-St. Albert delegate selection meeting. His team was handing out a list of their preferred candidates for the delegate selection inside the lobby of the building of the meeting.
“I’m starting to believe that is the strategy of Mr. Kenney. Mr. Kenney is trying to make our party look bad and frankly I’m tired of it,” Khan said. “Every time there is this arrogant and entitled kind of activity that happens that is solely created by the Kenney campaign and Mr. Kenney, it is a black eye for the party as a whole.”
Starke questioned whether this was a strategy to discredit the party because “he certainly is running to destroy the party.”
“If he discredits the party along the way through his actions maybe that’s what he has set out to do in the first place,” Starke said.
In a statement, the Kenney camp said they were disappointed by the ruling but plan to comply with the decision.
PC Party leadership rules state that a candidate cannot be near the delegate selection site, but the Kenney campaign argued that “near” was an ambiguous term.
“Our campaign has sought at all times to comply with the rules laid out for the leadership election,” Blaise Boehmer, director of communications for the Kenney campaign said in an email. “Our campaign repeatedly sought clarification of the vague rules regarding activities prior to DSMs, but we received none.”
But Dunseith wrote in a report to the PC association’s board that if the Kenney campaign had approached him and asked if they could enter the building, they would have got a clear answer.
“I hope this is a lesson to the camp and to all the candidates that we’re very serious about these rules and they will be enforced,” Katherine O’Neill, PCAA president said when she announced the ruling.
Starke says all of Kenney’s infractions are a distraction from the real issues that voters should be focusing on. He says that the race should be about policy and the issues facing Albertans.
Delegate selection meetings will continue to be held in the 87 constituencies across the province. Delegates will choose between Byron Nelson, Kenney, Khan and Starke for the next party leader in March at the leadership convention.
The St. Albert delegate selection meeting will be on Feb. 11, 2017.