Published:September 21, 2021

-Western Standard


Alberta country star George Canyon is set to announce he’s running for the presidency of the United Conservative Party, multiple sources tell the Western Standard.

But Canyon is not seeking a typical mandate for a party president, however, but will be running on a platform of holding an early leadership review of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

Several sources in the party told the Western Standard Canyon will make the announcement this week.

The UCP will hold its annual general meeting November 19-21 at the Grey Eagle Resort, where members present will elect a new board of directors for the party.

Candidates running on an explicit mandate of triggering a leadership review is rare in Canadian politics.

Canyon placed second in the 2019 federal election under the Conservative banner in his native Nova Scotia, but lives in Alberta.

The country music star regularly sings the national anthem at Calgary Flames games at the Saddledome.

Canyon’s entry into the political fray comes as Kenney’s leadership has been under siege since he imposed a fourth round of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns last week, including a vaccine passport, something he vowed never to do.

A UCP Caucus meeting is set for Wednesday and Kenney’s leadership is expected to be the main point of discussion.

Dozens of grassroots UCP constituency associations have joined forces to call for an early leadership review of Kenney. The party currently has one scheduled in late 2022, only six months before the next provincial election.

UCP VP of policy Joel Mullan wrote an open letter in the Western Standard Tuesday that called for Kenney to go immediately.

“My responsibility is to look at the reality —not wish it away — and take the necessary steps to protect the health care system,” Kenney said.

“Let’s deal with those things at the right time, after this crisis.”

He said any move to hold a leadership race now would be “grossly irresponsible.”

Kenney was asked if the internal turmoil in the UCP was what led to the resignation of Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

“I am focused on getting through the fourth wave of COVID, not politics,” Kenney said.

“We have to protect the health care system to prevent needless deaths — we will not allow politics to distract us.”

Kenney may not go so easily however.