Premier Jason Kenney removes MLA Pat Rehn from UCP caucus

Premier Jason Kenney has removed United Conservative MLA Pat Rehn from the UCP caucus effective immediately.

In a statement on Twitter on Thursday morning, the premier said Rehn will sit as an independent MLA and not be permitted to run for a future UCP nomination.

“The most important job of a Member of the Legislative Assembly is to represent his or her constituents,” Kenney said in a statement.

“It has become clear that Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn has failed to do so. He has made no meaningful effort to work in his constituency, or properly to represent his hard-working constituents.

“I have repeatedly asked Mr. Rehn to be more present in his constituency. He has ignored calls from me, UCP caucus leadership and his constituents to do so.”

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Kenney went on to say that Rehn’s performance “falls well below the high standards we expect in our caucus and party.”

The premier said he has spoken with local leaders in the Lesser Slave Lake constituency to express the government’s support for their communities.

The move comes after a few local leaders spoke out against Rehn. Slave Lake and High Prairie are the main urban centres in the sprawling rural constituency of Lesser Slave Lake in northern Alberta. Both have criticized Rehn.

Read more: Slave Lake working around MLA Pat Rehn to get things done after issuing scathing letter: mayor

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In a recent letter penned to the MLA, Slave Lake’s council accused him of not meeting with constituents, focusing more on his business interests, not showing up for meetings and being ill-prepared when he does show up.

Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman said last week that he and council have “lost all faith” in Rehn.

“At this point we kind of feel … what do we have to lose?” Warman said. “There is an overwhelming feeling amongst the elected leaders and the people who live here that he has lost (our confidence).”

Read more: Slave Lake council asks for resignation of MLA Pat Rehn in open letter

In a Facebook post last week, Rehn did not address specific concerns about his job performance, but said he is committed to the constituency and to serving its residents.

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Rehn recently lost his legislature committee responsibilities after it was confirmed he engaged in non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kenney said he and government ministers will meet with Lesser Slave Lake constituents in the weeks to come to “ensure that they have direct access to their government, and to help them address important local issues.”

Global News has reached out to Rehn’s office for a response and will update this story once it is received.

With files from The Canadian Press.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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