Michelle Rempel Garner, a longtime Conservative MP from Calgary, says she’s stepping back from the federal Conservative leadership race to consider running for Jason Kenney’s job.
Rempel Garner was serving as co-chair on Patrick Brown’s leadership campaign when Kenney stunned many last month by announcing he was resigning as premier of Alberta and leader of the United Conservative Party after narrowly surviving a leadership review.
Rempel Garner’s name soon started to circulate as a potential successor to Kenney.
She confirmed on Twitter she has been encouraged to run and is giving “serious consideration” to mounting a UCP leadership bid.
Rempel Garner says she will step back from the federal Conservative leadership race to focus her attention on a potential leadership run.
“I will make my decision based on the conversations I have with the people I represent — Albertans.”
In his own statement on Twitter, Brown thanked Rempel Garner for contributing to his campaign and wished her well in her deliberations.
Announcing that Rempel Garner, who was first elected in 2011, would serve as one of his national campaign co-chairs was seen by some to be a key get for Brown, whose political roots lie in Ontario.
Her departure follows a decision by two MPs to forgo their endorsement of Brown and instead back his main rival, longtime Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre.
At the time, a spokesman for Brown’s campaign brushed off the decision by Ontario MPs Kyle Seeback and Dan Muys to switch sides, saying they only represent two votes.
A spokesman has not yet responded to a question of whether Brown will name a replacement to the role Rempel Garner filled as a campaign co-chair.
Almost since the race began, Poilievre and Brown, as well as their wider teams, have taken to attacking one another back and forth, which continued Thursday with Poilievre tweeting Brown’s leadership bid was in “free fall.”
Recently, the party opened an investigation into Brown’s campaign based on a complaint lodged by Tim Uppal, a Conservative MP from Edmonton who is helping chair Poilievre’s campaign.
In a letter sent last week to Ian Brodie, chair of the party’s leadership election organizing committee, Uppal alleges that Poilievre’s campaign has been made aware of “concerning membership sales practices” by Brown.
Uppal details how the Poilievre campaign “received repeated reports” that organizers working for Brown “were arranging to reimburse the membership fees paid by individuals who agreed to join the party using the Brown campaign’s web portal.”
In a statement, party executive director Wayne Benson confirmed that it had received the complaint from Poilievre’s campaign about Brown and is investigating the allegations.
He added the party wouldn’t say more until the investigation was over.
Brown’s campaign has dismissed the allegations, with spokesman Chisholm Pothier saying it looked forward to “debunking their delusions.”
When it comes to Rempel Garner’s departure, Pothier said the campaign still enjoys her support and that she left to fulfil other obligations.
He added her leaving doesn’t change anything about the campaign’s organization.
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