(Reuters) – Alberta Premier Jason Kenney will remain as premier and leader of the United Conservative Party (UCP) until his successor is chosen, the party said on Thursday, just a day after Kenney said he would step down.
The premier of Canada’s main oil-producing province, Kenney announced his intention to resign as party leader on Wednesday after receiving only 51.4% of votes in a leadership review, following criticism of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and top-down leadership style.
His decision came as a surprise after he had previously vowed to remain leader, even if he received a simple majority of only 50% plus one.
The party met on Thursday to choose an interim leader and premier, and launch a leadership race ahead of Alberta’s provincial election in spring 2023.
“… We have affirmed Premier Jason Kenney’s continued leadership of our caucus and government until such time as a new leader is chosen, the timing of which will be determined by the United Conservative Party,” UCP caucus chair Nathan Neudorf said in a statement.
The UCP leadership race could take several months. The party was formed in 2017 by a merger of Alberta’s two largest right-wing parties, the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose party.
(Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)