Will continue as an independent MLA
Questions were swirling last week, in the wake of Slave Lake town council calling for the resignation of Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn to resign.
Would other municipalities follow suit?
Would Rehn actually throw in the towel?
Would the Premier step in and do something?
A week after the blockbuster, the answers were ‘not exactly,’ ‘no’ and ‘emphatically yes.’
As of Jan. 14, Rehn was still MLA, but not representing the United Conservative Party.
“I have made the decision to remove Pat Rehn from the UCP Caucus, effective immediately,” said Premier Kenney in a social media post on the morning of that day. The first job of an MLA is to represent his constituents, Kenney said, and Rehn “failed to do so.”
Rehn will continue to sit as an independent MLA and will not be allowed to run for the UCP again.
The next big question: what sort of representation can Lesser Slave Lake expect now, with Rehn no longer in the UCP fold? Prior to the Kenney bombshell, Rehn had been showing signs of unusual activity. He announced construction of a dialysis facility at the High Prairie hospital; he announced on social media “productive” meetings with community leaders in Wabasca. He asked the M.D. of Lesser Slave River if he could meet with them and proposed a couple of dates.
Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman said on Thursday morning (a minute or two before passing on the news of Rehn’s expulsion from caucus) that he’d heard from the MLA by email, requesting a meeting.
Commenting on Rehn being booted from caucus, Warman said it may seem like a bad thing, but he thinks the town may be better off. Because the government has reached out and wants to address the needs of the region, “we are likely much further ahead. I see it as a win.”
Contrary to expectations, the M.D. of Lesser Slave River council did not discuss Rehn’s performance as an MLA at its Jan. 13 meeting. However, the M.D. did send a letter to the Premier expressing its concerns about the MLA. Reeve Murray Kerik told The Leader last week no reply had been received.
“We have not changed our view of Mr. Rehn, but are trying to work with him,” he said, prior to the news of Rehn’s expulsion from the UCP.
After the big announcement, Kerik had this to say: “I haven’t had a chance to talk to anyone in the UCP party yet. They say they are getting in touch with all of us to ensure we will still have a connection with their government!”
Rehn’s Facebook page has become a sort of slugfest, with him taking most of the shots – including from former MLA Danielle Larivee on his expense accounts (“adding insult to injury,” she calls it).
Meanwhile, Rehn forges ahead with his social media campaign. On Dec. 30 he posted about the government’s Bill 47. On Dec. 31 it was Bill 48. Both are aimed at reducing red tape. On Jan. 9 he posted a ‘thank you’ to front line workers. As of this writing he hadn’t commented on his removal from the UCP caucus.