A Calgary city councillor says former Wildrose leader Brian Jean told him he will be stepping back into the political fray in time for Alberta’s spring election, but Jean is sidestepping the rumours.
Coun. Joe Magliocca says he was surprised when Jean told him he would soon be the leader of the Freedom Conservative Party — which is currently led by MLA Derek Fildebrandt — and even more surprised when Jean asked him to run.
The conversation happened in a phone call earlier this week, Magliocca said.
Fildebrandt stepped down from the then newly formed United Conservative Party caucus in 2017 after being plagued by a series of political scandals.
He was disciplined multiple times by Jean during his time in the Wildrose, and UCP Leader Jason Kenney refused to allow him to rejoin the party after he pleaded guilty to illegally shooting a deer on private land.
He founded the FCP shortly after.
Magliocca said he told Kenney about the phone call, and described Kenney’s reaction as “flabbergasted.”
Jean lost the UCP leadership race to Kenney in 2017 and resigned as an MLA the next year.
Magliocca said he urged Jean not to rejoin politics and risk splitting the conservative vote.
“You know, he won fair and square, let’s drop it. Let’s unite, let’s help Jason out,” Magliocca said he told Jean.
That was a message echoed by former prime minister Stephen Harper, who tweeted about the rumours.
<a href=”https://t.co/eE2l4oXGH8″>https://t.co/eE2l4oXGH8</a> <a href=”https://t.co/zT0029j2Dq”>pic.twitter.com/zT0029j2Dq</a>
A source familiar with the issue told CBC News that a major, possibly disruptive announcement would be coming Friday — but Jean wouldn’t be a part of it.
CBC News is not identifying the source as he wasn’t authorized to speak on the topic.
“There is no Brian Jean announcement tomorrow for anybody, not for Alberta Party, not for FCP, not for anybody, but there is stuff happening tomorrow and it’s possible that it will be disruptive,” he said.
“We have reason to believe that there will be sort of announcements and things done tomorrow, that they’re a big deal, but they don’t involve Brian.”
Jean tweeted that he wouldn’t be making an announcement Friday.
“I too have heard crazy rumours about something coming Friday but NONE of it involves me,” he wrote.
Wow. I too have heard crazy rumours about something coming Friday but NONE of it involves me. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/electionsillyseason?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#electionsillyseason</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ableg?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#ableg</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/abpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#abpoli</a>
CBC News has reached out to Jean for comment.
The 2017 UCP leadership campaign has been back in the spotlight, with allegations Kenney’s campaign colluded with another leadership candidate’s campaign to tank Jean’s chances.
Jeff Callaway, the former Wildrose Party president, ran for the leadership against Kenney, Jean and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer.
Callaway abruptly dropped out of the race after taking a few jabs at Jean, ultimately throwing his support behind Kenney.
On Wednesday, a UCP board member came forward and said he was one of two voices on a leaked audio recording that seems to outline a “kamikaze” plan to have Callaway enter the race to attack Jean on Kenney’s behalf.
Kenney weighs in
Kenney commented on the speculation around Jean’s possible re-entry into politics during a Thursday teleconference.
“It’s been clear for some time that Brian has had a hard time coming to terms with the decision made by grassroots conservatives in our leadership election,” he said.
“But it now appears that he’s also having a hard time accepting the decision … to support uniting into one big party.”
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Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area. It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary, generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road). Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.
Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016, Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.
Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton. The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.