Orange Tory Brian Jean Is Not What The UCP Needs To Get Back On Track

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on March 22, 2022

Brian Jean has been openly looking to replace Jason Kenney as the premier of Alberta since he lost the leadership race to him after the Progressive Conservative Wildrose merger into the United Conservative Party in 2017. 

That was undeniably a dirty race, especially from the Kenney camp, who pulled out all sorts of unethical and potentially illegal tricks to undermine Jean’s campaign. It ended up making many sympathize with Jean and wanting him to be the next UCP leader and premier after Kenney’s lackluster leadership over the past two years began to frustrate Conservative Albertans. 

Many observing Jean over the years has always been skeptical of his actual ability to lead. Yes, he was the Wildrose Party leader when they became the official opposition after the orange wave of the NDP in 2015, but many criticized Jean’s leadership throughout his tenure for trying to push the party to the left and having a top-down style of party governance. 

In an endorsement letter for Jason Kenney during the 2017 UCP leadership race, former Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman ripped Brian Jean’s leadership of the Wildrose, stating that:

I was disappointed when Brian Jean insisted that the leadership election occur before the policy convention. I’ve been a bit bewilidered by Brian releasing policy platforms for the 2019 election before UCP members have had a chance to vote on police.

In fairness I was not completely shocked. Wildrose’s grassroots philosophy, unfortunately, did shift in recent years. Brian has been all over the map on numerous issues since he first ran for the Wildrose leadership.

One only need to look at Brian’s musing about bringing in his own carbon tax, which never had the support of Wildrose members.

Even during the last two years, Jean has been criticizing Kenney’s performance during COVID-19, but not criticisms an actual Conservative would make. 

Back in August 2021, Jean went after Kenney’s leadership accusing him of being too partisan/right-wing.

Jean stated within a long Facebook post that: 

The UCP government’s leadership and its key activists seem blinded by their loathing of the NDP and treat anyone as an enemy who doesn’t blindly cheerlead for Jason Kenney on every single decision…

Jean repeatedly invoked the Saskatchewan Party and conservative figures like former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, yet wrongly concluded that the UCP needs to be more centrist like the failed Alberta Party. It would be a shock to Brad Wall, Scott Moe, and Ralph Klien that their governments were not uncompromisingly conservative, but Jean is trying to push his more centre-left views under the guise that popular conservatives would agree with his approach. 

Jean explained:

When a party understands these things, it opens the door to doing things differently. To reject how the angry left and the angry right are currently doing things. This opens the door to inviting people to vote FOR things rather than voting AGAINST things.

While Jean is correct that Kenney’s leadership is flawed, Jean somehow thinks that Kenney is too “ideological” and needs to become less conservative and more like the NDP (ie. trade unionism). 

The average UCP member would rightfully say that Kenney’s issue since he took office was his reluctance to make the cuts needed to government spending, and regulation, while also damaging the economy during COVID-19 with lockdowns and overbearing restrictions. 

Jean recently doubled down on these sentiments, after winning the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election for the UCP, that he believed during the COVID-19 pandemic Kenney should have given Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notely a cabinet position. 

This is a ridiculous statement because Jean has the benefit of hindsight, and unlike saying this at the beginning of the pandemic, he knows full well that Notely and the NDP have been championing small-business killing lockdowns, mask-mandates, vaccine mandates, and school closures.

Jean is effectively saying a hostile political actor should be let into the UCP and have their extreme big-government positions taken seriously at a time when Albertans were becoming sick of government overreach. 

On Facebook, after receiving backlash for Conservative Albertans for his pro-Notely stance, Jean backpedaled hard denying he said what directly came out of his mouth.

This is what is leading to the impression that Brian Jean may have already ruined his chances of becoming the next UCP leader and premier of Alberta. He simply is not what the UCP needs to get the party and the province back on track.

Jean is not seeking to be the next Ralph Klein and tackle the Alberta government’s spending problem. Instead Jean is an Orange Tory wanting to push the UCP to the left, likely because he believes it will bring electoral success, instead of pursuing conservative reforms that the UCP base wants. 

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

2 responses to “Orange Tory Brian Jean Is Not What The UCP Needs To Get Back On Track”

  1. Tim Siebert says:

    Thanks, this is a helpful summary of why Brian Jean is no better than Jason Kenney despite all Kenney’s obvious faults from the past two years.

    Time to kick Kenney out, then during the ensuing leadership race the grassroots Albertans can choose someone who will actually stand for the common sense principles the UCP was founded on.

    And that replacement definitely should not be Brian Jean. What are his qualifications? Losing to Notley, losing to Kenney, quitting as an MP, quitting as an MLA…

  2. Liam says:

    This is seriously disappointing. I followed Brian Jean closely for years and put faith in him. But I would always rather know the truth about these compromised conservatives than be made a fool of by them. Like they said of the Batman: You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.