Richard Starke will leave the Jason Kenney question up to his party for an answer.
The MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster has been in the running for the Progressive Conservative Party leadership since September of 2016, and is one of four candidates left in the race. Starke has been running on a platform of renewal for his party, while Kenney, a former MP, has been running with the intention of merging the PC’s with the Wildrose, and uniting the right in Alberta.
However, a week of public party in-fighting has resulted in party members murmuring about the PC’s removing Kenney from the raise, according to Starke. He says that decision would be left up to the governing board of the party, and it would take “something egregious”.
“We all signed a code of conduct,” said Starke.
“We all signed a pledge that none of the actions we would undertake during the course of the campaign would diminish or tarnish the reputation of the party. I certainly think we’ve done everything to uphold that to the very best of our ability. When the board has made a decision, I’ve always supported it.”
Starke also said there have been incidents that have given the public “reason to question” the party, with this week standing out.
“It becomes cumulative,” said Starke.
“It’s not one single incident, but it does accumulate. That’s the kind of thing that party members have been telling me.”
As for Starke’s own opinion on whether the board should consider disqualification, he declined to offer one.
“For me to express an opinion is clearly out of bounds,” said Starke.
“It is the board’s decision, it is not my decision, and I am not in a position to recommend to the board which position they should take, because I have a vested interest, and that’s not proper.”
The Kenney question aside, Starke was positive about his campaign performance so far, saying that delegates had been won for party renewal in Whitecourt and Stettler. He also said that recent numbers about the race “don’t matter.”
“The numbers that are getting thrown around by the different camps here, they really don’t matter, sort of like the scores from ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’, the scores don’t matter,” said Starke.
“They’re all conflicting, of course. Everybody is claiming this number, or that number. We had a situation in one of the DSM’s where there people that appeared on both slates, for both renewal and for unity, and were elected!”
The party will vote on a new leader in March.