Kenney leadership win prompts Tory shake up
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Kenney leadership win prompts Tory shake up

As the Progressive Conservative board meets this weekend for the first time since the party's March leadership convention, there will be a number of empty places around the table.

The party confirmed this week that five board members have resigned since Jason Kenney won the party leadership nearly two months ago on a platform of uniting the PCs with the Wildrose in a new party.

Connor Turner, Kim Krushell, Stephanie Shostak, Bud James and Jordan Lien have stepped down as directors, with Kenney's plans for the party a factor in the decisions of some of them.

In an interview this week, Turner said he resigned as a Calgary regional director because he opposed the push for unification with the Wildrose.

"There's a lot of differences between the PCs and the Wildrose," he said, citing areas such as social issues.

"All the work that was done by the (PC) members and the policy conference seem to have gone out the door and I just don't like the direction it's going in anymore."

Turner said he hasn't found a new political home but is leaning toward the Alberta Party, which announced this week that former PC party executive director Troy Wason — who resigned the day after Kenney's leadership victory — was now under contract to review operations.

When Shostak departed from the board last month, she posted on Facebook that she had joined the Alberta Party.

"My values, principles and beliefs are unable to align with the current leadership of PC Alberta," she wrote.

James said in an email that personal commitments had kept him from putting the time in at the board level but also acknowledged that "politically I am not in the same place as the leader and therefore have resigned."

The PC website lists 35 current board members.

Katherine O'Neill, who resigned last month as party president, remains a member of the board. She said her resignation was not prompted by Kenney's victory.

The board will hold its regular scheduled meeting in Red Deer on Saturday, with one item on the agenda the selection of a replacement for O'Neill to serve until the party's annual general meeting in November.

Kenney declined an interview request to speak about the board resignations, with a spokesman saying in an email that he would not comment on "internal party matters."

But PC party interim executive director Janice Harrington said the departures from the board are not unusual.

"I'm surprised it's only six," she said, counting O'Neill.

"It's normal after any leadership (election) for there to be a change in board members, especially board members who supported different candidates than the person who won. But I know there was a few who left for very personal reasons."

Harrington said there have also been resignations of some PC constituency association presidents, but she did not have a number of how many.

A unity discussion group made up of representatives of both the PC and Wildrose parties continue to hold talks. Under a deadline set when the group was formed, it is supposed to report back to members by Friday.

Kenney, known as a strong social and fiscal conservative during his time as a federal MP, has said he wants to build a broad coalition that will include self-described moderates.

Krushell, a former Edmonton city councillor, said she stepped down as northern finance chair for personal family reasons.

But she said that as a member of the progressive wing of the PC party she will be watching how Kenney proceeds as leader.

"I think whoever the party is that's going to win power, they have to demonstrate they are in the centre," said Krushell.

"The question is right now, what does that look like."

Lien could not be reached for comment.

jwood@postmedia.com

source : Calgary SUN
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