Amid protests and pushback, Kenney to address UCP faithful in Calgary

CALGARY –

Premier Jason Kenney, leader of the United Conservative Party, is scheduled to make his keynote address at the party’s annual general meeting on Saturday morning.

His speech, to an in-person gathering at the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino in southwest Calgary, is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m.

The keynote address comes as a number of sources inside the party suggest the UCP is on the verge of collapse.

While a review of Kenney’s leadership won’t take place at this weekend’s AGM, political experts say that won’t stop questions from being asked.

“Whatever is happening on the stage, whatever is happening on the agenda is going to take second place to questions surrounding Jason Kenney’s leadership,” said Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams.

Reports suggest nearly two dozen constituency associations have said the leadership review needs to happen now instead of in the spring.

“I think that is really a new leader, or a resounding leadership confirmation – one of the two, and I think we need to put it to bed and move ahead,” said Erhard Poggemiller with Olds-Didsbury.

“I really hope that we stay together, that we don’t split because I think the worst thing we can do is split as a party.”

DOZENS OF PROTESTERS AT VENUE

As Friday evening’s events took place with Kenney meeting party members, a gathering of a different sort took place outside the Grey Eagle Casino.

Dozens of people, believed to be anti-vaccine demonstrators, forced the venue into a state of lockdown, preventing everyone from entering or exiting the building.

The group waved signs speaking out against vaccine mandates set by the provincial government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and calling for Kenney’s resignation.

Members of the Tsuut’ina Police Service were on hand to keep the peace and Grey Eagle officials told CTV News in a statement that they had been anticipating that sort of activity.

“Management at the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino are aware that protesters did attend the area of the UCP AGM,” said spokesperson Morten Paulsen via email.

“This was one contingency that was anticipated and security protocols are in place. The Grey Eagle Resort and Casino is working closely with organizers, and with Tsuut’ina Police.”

CTV Calgary will be livestreaming Kenney’s address online as it happens.

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