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'The lunatics are trying to take over:' Quotes from Kenney's time in Alberta politics

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney responds to a question from the media on the final day of the summer meeting of Canada's premiers at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria on July 12, 2022. United Conservative Party members will pick a new leader on Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

EDMONTON — Alberta's United Conservative Party is to vote in a new leader and premier on Thursday. Premier Jason Kenney announced in May, following a leadership review, that he would be stepping down. Here are some key quotes from his time in Alberta politics:

“I’ve decided to seek the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, seeking an explicit mandate: to unite with the Wildrose Party and all like-minded Albertans so we can defeat the NDP and put this province back on the right track.” – July 6, 2016, announcing his leadership bid and a plan that came to fruition three years later.

“Friends, today our great province has sent a message to Canada and the world: Alberta is open for business.” — April 16, 2019, in his victory speech on the night the UCP wins the provincial election to take power as a majority government. 

“They need to understand that they're killing the golden goose. They have both fists wrapped around the throat of that goose — the source of the gold that paid for quality public services across Canada.” – Nov. 9, 2019, on federal policies hurting Alberta’s oil and gas industry.

“This will be the most challenging period in our economy, in relative terms, since the Great Depression.” – April 7, 2020, in a TV address as COVID-19 envelopes the province.

“Knock it off.” — Nov. 2, 2020, to COVID-19 scofflaws holding super-spreader house parties, leading to a rise in cases.

“I just never imagined I’d be in this place in public life where I was telling people who could come visit them at home.” – Nov. 24, 2020, announcing new restrictions on public gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“I don’t accept the Alberta bashing that is going on here.” – Dec. 9, 2020, to a radio host criticizing his government’s COVID-19 policies.

“Trust has been broken, and I accept that trust must be repaired.” — Jan. 7, 2021, after disciplining MLAs for travelling to sunny hot spots over Christmas while his government urged Albertans to stay home.

“On July 1, Alberta isn’t just open for summer, but I believe will be open for good.” — June 18, 2021, announcing that remaining COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted by the end of the month. By the fall, caseloads would push Alberta’s health system to the brink of collapse.

“The notion that I would ascribe blame is absurd.” — Nov. 3, 2021, when challenged for saying he would have brought in new health restrictions earlier but didn’t because the chief medical health officer didn’t suggest any.

“The lunatics are trying to take over the asylum, and I won’t let them.” – March 22, 2022, in leaked recordings to staff, speaking about his leadership review.

“I ask for your forgiveness if there were decisions that we made (in COVID-19) which you think were wrong or which offended you.” – April 9, 2022, in an address to party members. 

“What Albertans expect from their government isn’t a constant soap opera, and they certainly don’t want to see a family feud.” — April 20, 2022, on his leadership review.

“The result is not what I hoped for or frankly what I expected.” — May 18, 2022, announcing he would step down as leader, after receiving 51 per cent support in a party leadership review.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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