FORT MCMURRAY - Just months after losing a bid to lead the province's new United Conservative Party, Brian Jean is quitting politics.
Jean won the leadership of the Wildrose Party in March 2015. Under his leadership, the Caucus grew from three members to 22 and increased party coffers by almost a million dollars.
The Wildrose Party merged last year with the PCs under then-leader and former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney to form the UCP, but Jean lost to Kenney to become leader of the new party.
Before provincial politics, Jean served ten years as the Member of Parliament for Fort McMurray - Athabasca, and Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for six of those years. He was also a full-time member of the Standing Committees on Finance and Justice.
A lawyer by profession, Jean built several successful businesses and had been an active litigator. He also served on many volunteer and corporate boards throughout his life.
The follow is Jean's announcement regarding his decision:
“Three years ago, I entered provincial politics because I believed Albertans deserved better from their government — whether it was an unresponsive health care system, irresponsible spending, or suffering from a decline in democracy. We needed to set a bold new direction for conservative politics in this province and I’m proud that during my time as leader of Wildrose and as a member of the United Conservative Party, these policies are closer to coming to reality than ever before.
“Conservatives are stronger together. Together with my caucus and our movement, I worked hard to set out a vision of unity for Albertans and members of our party. It’s a legacy I’m proud of. More importantly, I cannot express how humbling it was to lead Alberta’s official Opposition for over two years. I was privileged to meet with Albertans from every corner of the province, listen to them and advocate for them in the legislature. I made friendships that will last a lifetime.
“Last fall, I was proud to run for the leadership of our United Conservative Party and was incredibly touched by the support I received. Our members set out a clear direction for our party, and I would like to wish Jason Kenney and the rest of my UCP colleagues the very best as they prepare for the next election. Our conservative movement — its ideas, its principles and its common sense solutions — is better for Albertans.
“I did not make this decision lightly. Being elected to represent the people of Fort McMurray in different capacities since 2004 has been one of the greatest honours in my life. Alberta and Albertans are always close to my heart and mind, but I believe now is an important time in my life to draw closer to my family, my kids and my grandchildren. My beautiful wife Kim was my greatest support during my time as MLA, leader and leadership candidate, and it’s time for us to take the next steps on our adventure together - including finally getting our home rebuilt in Fort McMurray. I love this province. Thank you, everyone. God bless Alberta.”
United Conservative leader, Jason, Kenney issued a news release thanking Jean for his contributions to the conservative movement:
"On behalf of the United Conservative Party, I’d like to thank Brian for his huge contributions to the conservative movement over the past fourteen years, especially as Leader of the Opposition and MLA.
Today, the conservative movement in Alberta is resurgent, thanks in large part to Brian’s courageous and principled decision to put our province ahead of any political party by pursuing the path of unity.
Brian stepped up to the mantle of leadership at a difficult time for his family personally, and distinguished himself as a strong Leader of the Opposition at a key time in Alberta history. His compassionate response and leadership in the face of the Fort McMurray fire of 2016 demonstrated his strength of character.
While it is a loss for our caucus that he has decided to return to private life, I understand and respect his personal reasons for doing so. His legacy in public life will endure in the United Conservative Party which he helped to create."
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