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MLA booted from Alberta UCP caucus shows no signs he'll give up seat


EDMONTON — An Alberta legislature member booted from the United Conservative caucus for failing to represent his constituents is signalling he has no plans to give up his seat. 

Pat Rehn, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, said on Facebook that he's disappointed over his ouster, but there are some advantages to not being tied to a political party.

An earlier version of the statement posted late Thursday said he was "relieved." 

Rehn started by thanking UCP Premier Jason Kenney for the opportunity over the last two years, but said as an Independent he can express his opposition to some provincial pandemic measures such as closing gyms and businesses. 

"I believe strongly that measures must be taken to prevent COVID-19 spread, but also recognize the long-lasting effects caused by the lockdown itself," he wrote. 

"There are still some large projects in the works I'm proud to be a part of, and I am optimistic this region will see great growth as we move forward, put 2020 behind us, and start fresh in 2021."

Kenney announced Rehn's removal on Thursday after municipal leaders complained he was rarely in the constituency, missed meetings or wasn't prepared for them. 

Rehn was one of a half dozen UCP MLAs, including one cabinet minister, who vacationed in sunny locales over the holidays, contrary to public health guidance to stay home to help stem the spread of COVID-19. 

He is still entitled to his MLA salary of more than $120,000 a year.

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley is calling on Rehn to give up his seat so a byelection can be called. 

Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman had a similar message. 

"When you've lost the respect and support of the people you represent, as well as the people you work with, I think you need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask what you're still doing there," Warman said Thursday. 

The executive committee of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association is also urging Rehn to step down.

"It is imperative for MLAs to be engaged with the cities, towns, villages, summer villages and counties they represent," it said in a statement Friday.

"It is therefore particularly regrettable that Slave Lake, High Prairie, and other municipal councils from the provincial constituency of Lesser Slave Lake had to take the unprecedented step of publicly reporting their struggles with building a productive relationship with MLA Pat Rehn."

Kenney said during a Facebook question-and-answer session earlier this month that his government would move to pass recall legislation in the upcoming sitting of the legislature. 

— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021  

The Canadian Press