In an interview, Kenney has, for the first time, conceded that he will step aside if he does not receive a majority of his party's support to remain leader.
The following interview with the Canadian Press saw Kenney state the following:
Interviewer: A leadership review is on — are you, personally, the dividing figure in the party?
Kenney: It certainly is a highly motivated, small minority that have decided to get involved in this leadership review, to drive an agenda that is far outside the mainstream. And to ignore that is to ignore what is obviously in front of us, OK?
This is the reality that we’re dealing with, and I am doing my level best to maintain this as a big tent, but still mainstream, centre-right party. Is that easy? No. Will there be angry and marginal voices from time to time? Yes.
But I’m committed to staying the course on this and if we go into a leadership election, there is no doubt that the passionate intensity will come from people who don’t believe COVID ever happened, believe that the vaccines are lethal and want to settle scores over all of that.
I think that would be catastrophic for the party. I think the majority of Albertans wouldn’t have a clue understanding that debate. They would think this is reckless and is ignoring the real bread and butter concerns of most Alberta families, which is around the economy, the cost of living inflation, housing, etc.
Interviewer: Can the party’s division be healed?
Kenney: Yes, I believe we can overcome the tensions within our movement that surfaced during COVID.
And I have a bit of experience with this because I spent three years of my life rebuilding the United Conservative Party in Alberta. There were deep divisions, resentments and distrust that had built up over a decade.
When I started that work, there were a lot of people in both legacy parties who said “Hell no, it will never happen. I’m never going to be in a room with those guys.” But we did the hard work, methodically and democratically, to build the new, united party.
So I think the vast majority of Alberta conservatives know that … it is unity or an NDP government period, full stop.
But the main issue we faced internally over the past two years has been division over COVID. My argument is, let it recede in the rearview mirror, the worst of it is behind us. Let’s not permanently divide our movement and party over a once-in-a-century crisis, let’s move forward. I believe that as I get around the province, that’s where the vast majority of our members are at.
Interviewer: You have said 50+1 was a majority for you to stay as leader. Are you still standing by that number?
Kenney: Well, I’d like to get as much support as possible, but I did say that 50 per cent plus one is a majority in a democracy. That’s the number required in our constitution for the leader to be confirmed at a review vote.
I know all of you guys in the media want me to invent some arbitrary figure, I’m not going to do that. I’m optimistic that I will receive a strong endorsement from the membership. I don’t know what the number will be.
And I will respect the outcome. If I receive that endorsement, I expect all members of our caucus to respect it. If I don’t get endorsed by the members, I will, in all humility, step aside and thank them for the privilege of having had the best job in Canada.
But I believe that a significant majority of mainstream Alberta conservatives are going to vote for unity, stability and continuity.