The mayor and council for the Town of Slave Lake posted a scathing open letter Tuesday demanding the resignation of the region’s United Conservative MLA Pat Rehn.
The letter says that Rehn, the MLA for Lesser Slave Lake since April 2019, doesn’t live in the region, misses meetings and spends more time managing his business interests in Texas than working for his constituents in the northern Alberta riding.
“I am hoping Mr. Rehn recognizes he doesn’t have the support of the people in this region and hasn’t had it for a long time,” Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman said in an interview with CBC.
“It doesn’t appear he has any passion to do the job. So step aside, and let somebody do it that wants to and can do it.”
The letter, signed by Warman and the other six members of Slave Lake council, lists several complaints about Rehn. It comes just days after Rehn confirmed he had travelled to Mexico over the holidays.
The letter alleges he hasn’t lived in the region since the election, hasn’t held a first meeting with some local government officials, and has been absent for meetings between local leaders and UCP cabinet ministers about important regional issues like rural crime.
One meeting was with Seniors and Housing Minister Josephine Pon to discuss a proposed $4 million housing project.
“You could not be bothered to show up on our behalf to help move the project forward,” the letter said. “This meeting was scheduled by your government.”
Council accused of sowing division
In a Facebook post, Rehn defended his roots in the Slave Lake region by saying he had “logging, sawmilling and crane experience that goes back decades” in both Alberta and the Lesser Slave Lake constituency.
Rehn said he owns homes in Slave Lake and Edmonton but not in Texas where has travelled in the past year ” to address essential business matters.”
“I, of course, complied with all health requirements when doing so,” he wrote.
Rehn is one of six UCP MLAs who travelled outside the country over the Christmas holidays against public health guidelines to avoid non-essential international travel. As punishment, Premier Jason Kenney stripped him of his legislative committee positions.
In the Facebook post, Rehn accused Slave Lake Council of taking advantage of the travel controversy.
“I made some poor choices around travel, for which I have taken full responsibility,” Rehn wrote. “It’s disappointing to see some municipal officials seizing on this to try and sow political division at this difficult time.”
However, Rehn did not address the allegations from Slave Lake council about how he regularly misses or arrives ill-prepared for meetings.
Warman said a lack of provincial representation means Lesser Slave Lake is falling behind.
“We need to be represented,” Warman said.
“There are a lot of things the municipalities need, that this region needs, and want to work with the province and we have one representative to do that. And when that person is not engaged and does not show up and that person is not present — it’s a detriment to our people.”
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