Brian Jean’s back … or not: Former Wildrose leader denies rumour he will return to Alberta politics

Brian Jean’s back … or not: Former Wildrose leader denies rumour he will return to Alberta politics
Top Stories
EDMONTON — The rumour mill rattled Alberta Thursday morning after a newspaper column said that Brian Jean, the man who once led half of Alberta’s right wing through an election that resulted in the downfall of a four-decade dynasty, would be returning to provincial politics at the helm of the upstart Freedom Conservatives.

Calgary city councillor Joe Magliocca told the Calgary Sun that Jean is planning to take over the leadership of the small group of rogue conservatives currently led by Derek Fildebrandt, the former Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation. Fildebrandt left the UCP caucus last year after a handful of scandals and, after pleading guilty to illegally shooting a deer on private land, was forbidden from rejoining caucus. And, so, he started up his own party.

Jean appeared to dismiss the claim hours after it was published.

“I too have heard crazy rumours about something coming Friday but NONE of it involves me,” Jean wrote on Twitter.

Wow. I too have heard crazy rumours about something coming Friday but NONE of it involves me. #electionsillyseason #ableg #abpoli

Still, the rumour was enough to draw the attention — and condemnation — of some prominent western Canadian conservatives.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe warned of divisions within the right.

“Our province was the example of what dividing the free enterprise movement will do: electing NDP governments, over and over again,” he wrote on Twitter. (That tweet was retweeted by former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.)

Moe was joined by former prime minister Stephen Harper, who posted a statement to Twitter, saying “Conservatives win when we are united.”

“Jason Kenney received an overwhelming mandate from Alberta’s conservatives to lead us into the next election,” Harper said. “Laureen and I will be strongly supporting Jason and we are confident that all true Alberta conservatives will help him defeat this NDP government.”

Jean left provincial politics after losing in a leadership race to Jason Kenney, who’d arrived on the scene after years with Harper’s Conservative government in Ottawa. Kenney united the fractured right, bringing together the dishevelled remnants of Jean’s Wildrose Party and the Progressive Conservative party.

Albertans will go to the voting booth sometime before the end of May, and the campaign could, possibly, kick off as soon as Monday, when Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government will deliver a Throne Speech.

With the United Conservative Party currently leading in the polls, here’s what you need to know about Jean and how his return could risk upsetting the balance of political power in the province.

Who is Brian Jean?

Jean, 56, lives in Fort McMurray, the heart of Alberta’s oilsands. A lawyer by trade, he entered federal politics as an Alberta MP in 2004 when the Tories were the opposition, facing Paul Martin’s Liberals. He stayed on with Harper’s Conservatives until 2014.

In December 2014, there were a series of defections from the Wildrose Party, as members crossed the floor to the Progressive Conservatives, leaving the Wildrose adrift. Jean won the Wildrose leadership in March 2015. A little more than a week later, his son died, and shortly after, Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice called an election for May 5, 2015.

Prentice’s party was practically wiped out, and the NDP swept to power. Jean’s party retained its official opposition status, though, winning 21 seats, and he’s credited with holding the party together through the election.

But then, Kenney returned, and the Wildrose and PCs merged into the United Conservatives.
Read more on National Post
News Topics :
Similar Articles :
Top Stories
EDMONTON The former leader of Alberta s defunct Wildrose Party is dismissing talk that he plans to lead another provincial conservative party. that he s heard crazy rumours, but...
EDMONTON—Alberta’s political landscape faces a potentially seismic shift this weekend as two right of centre parties vote on whether to join forces to try to defeat Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government. The...
Top Stories
Outspoken Alberta MLA Derek Fildebrandt won t run for the leadership of the province s newly formed United Conservative Party – a move that increases the likelihood that most right of centre...
Albertans will find out Saturday whether the province’s two right of centre political parties will merge into one to try and defeat Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government. The Progressive Conservatives led by...
RED DEER, Alta. – Alberta’s political landscape profoundly shifted Saturday as its two main conservative parties — enemies for a decade — overwhelmingly agreed to end their feud and work...