Chris Clegg

South Peace News

Exercising his right to free speech has cost Central Peace – Notley MLA Todd Loewen his role as a sitting government MLA.

Loewen, along with Medicine Hat – Cyprus MLA Drew Barnes, were expelled from the United Conservative Party caucus May 13.

In a letter May 13, Loewen called for the resignation of party leader and Premier Jason Kenney. It prompted an emergency caucus meeting May 13 where members agreed to boot Loewen and Barnes from the caucus.

A portion of Loewen’s letter included the following:

“Many Albertans, including myself, no longer have confidence in your leadership,” wrote Loewen.

“I thank you for your service, but I am asking that you resign so that we can begin to put the province back together again.”

Conservative caucus whip Mile Ellis released a statement on behalf of the party May 13 after Loewen’s letter was made public.

“Members recognize the need for government caucus to remain strong and united behind our leader.

“There is simply no room in our caucus for those who continually seek to divide our party and undermine government leadership, especially at this critical juncture for our province,” he adds.

Loewen has been critical of the government for its lockdown and dealing with COVID.

On 630 CHED May 13, Loewen said his concerns weren’t just about the pandemic response, but also Kenney’s perceived “weak-kneed” approach to Ottawa.

Loewen added feuds with doctors and botched plans for coal exploration on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains were also factors prompting his letter.

Loewen also accused Kenney of not listening to caucus on compliance issues during the pandemic.

“When the premier chooses not to listen to caucus, is it any wonder why the people choose to stop listening to the government?” Loewen writes.

In April, when Kenney announced new COVID-19 restrictions at the start of the third wave, 16 of his MLAs signed a letter arguing that more lockdowns weren’t the right policy choice. Loewen was among them.

Loewen and Barnes will now sit as Independent MLAs.

The pair are apparently not alone. In the background, a letter is circulating among the party’s grassroots, gathering signatures for a demand that Kenney step aside.

At least one MLA has supported the pair. David Hansen, who represents Bonnyville – Cold Lake – St. Paul, posted on Facebook May 13 he has heard “the same thing from our supporters in my area” before praising Loewen.

“Todd, I applaud your courage and stand behind your decision,” Hanson wrote.