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Michelle Rempel Garner will not run for UCP leadership

Michelle Rempel Garner says she will not enter the race to lead the United Conservative Party of Alberta, ending weeks of speculation that the Conservative MP from Calgary will run to replace the outgoing leader, the premier Jason Kenney.

In a blog post Thursday morning, Rempel Garner said that while she was grateful for the many offers of encouragement to run for leadership, she decided against it for two main reasons – that she wants to continue to serving her Calgary constituents as an MP, and the “current dynamics of the UCP’s internal caucus”.

“I think Albertans would be better served if I stayed at this time in the important role they have already given me, and if I respected the UCP caucus by giving them the space they need to understand his stuff,” she said in her post.

As recently as Wednesday, signals were still being sent that Rempel Garner was gearing up for a bid announcement.

The campaign manager for Patrick Brown’s bid to lead the federal Conservative Party, Sean Schnell, left the post to play a role in Rempel Garner’s possible UCP campaign.

Schnell had worked for Rempel Garner’s office before either of the leadership contests began.

On June 15, the Calgary MP for Nose Hill posted a lengthy Twitter thread indicating that she was seriously considering running to replace Kenney.

“This is not a decision that should be taken lightly by anyone,” she tweeted at the time.

But on Thursday she announced, despite “all the stars” being aligned and nothing quite stopping her, that she had serious concerns about the direction of the UCP caucus.

Rempel Garner says he has heard “there is a significant level of pain and uncertainty” in this team.

The MP says there are divisions within this caucus and wonders how she could lead it as an outsider.

Rempel Garner says not running “was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.”