Jen Henderson is a journalist breaking news in the capital region. She is a staff reporter at the St. Albert Gazette and  covers provincial and federal politics, crime and court. 

Results are fuzzy after the Spruce Grove-St. Albert delegate selection

Results are fuzzy after the Spruce Grove-St. Albert delegate selection

The first PC delegate selection meeting in the region ended with more questions than answers Thursday.

Fifteen PC delegates from the riding of Spruce Grove-St. Albert were chosen to represent the constituency during the leadership selection vote.

However, who the delegates will support is unclear. The tactics of leadership candidate Jason Kenney's team have also been called into question after his supporters distributed a list of preferred delegates inside the building.

Officially 15 delegates were selected with four alternate delegates. But those delegates do not cast their official ballots until the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta (PCAA) leadership election on March 18, 2017 in Calgary.

Some delegates have stated their commitments to a particular candidate, but some of the delegates chosen on Thursday announced that they were undecided.

Kenney's team was standing at the doors handing out blue sheets of paper with 15 listed delegates that he said represented the ‘unity slate'. According to his team they have committed to supporting him at the leadership election.

“They're pledged to support us,” Kenney said. “I suppose they can change their mind, but their whole reason for running is to support my candidacy in Calgary.”

According to the Kenney camp's projections, 11 or 12 delegates committed to support Kenney's plan to unite with the Wildrose Party.

Leadership candidate Stephen Khan disputes Kenney's claims.

“We are really happy with our people that are on the slate and really confident that Mr. Kenney's numbers are off,” said Khan, a former St. Albert MLA.

Only four delegates on Kenney's list stood up and announced to the crowd they were supporting him during their one minute speaking time before the delegate vote. The rest either said they were undecided, or some simply spoke about the values they looked for in a leader. Some of those on the list did not make a speech at all. Of the four alternate delegates selected, three were undeclared and one had vocally pledged to vote for Khan.

“Mr. Kenney claims to have a fair number of folks on his slate,” Khan said. “We strongly dispute Mr. Kenney's numbers but we are happy to let him believe in his numbers. I'm quite purposely not going to run around and declare what our numbers are.”

Kenney's delegate list has been the source of some dispute. The majority of those entering to vote in the delegate selection were handed the list by Kenney's campaign but the president of the riding association eventually put a stop to it. They were told there was no campaigning or handing out campaign material allowed in the building.

PCAA party president Katherine O'Neill said she has been made aware that a complaint is being written against Kenney's camp and the distribution of the delegate sheets. She expects the complaint to be filed to the chief returning officer.

O'Neill says that she expects that type of action from campaigns but she said they “can't be doing it in or near the DSM [delegate selection meeting] room and it is up to the DRO [deputy returning officer] to decide what is near.”

But Kenney doesn't think any rules were broken by handing out a list of delegates pledged to support him. He says it is common practice at delegate meetings as a way to inform grassroots members who each delegate will be supporting.

On Nov. 28 the leadership candidates – including Khan, Kenney, Byron Nelson and Richard Starke – have been invited to St. Albert for a ‘friendraiser' and pub night at the Celtic Knot hosted by St. Albert P.C. Association. Tickets are $30 and include food and a drink and can be purchased at the door. 

Former leadership candidate crosses floor

On Thursday former PC leadership hopeful Sandra Jansen crossed the floor and joined the NDP. She announced her decision in a joint press conference with Premier Rachel Notley.

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