Jason Kenney, one of the top ministers from Stephen Harper's government, is set to leave federal politics, according to several reports.
Kenney will reportedly announce his departure this summer, and the news has set off speculation that he could devote his time to uniting Alberta's Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties, reported the CBC's Chris Hall, citing unnamed sources.
Jason Kenney is seen in Ottawa on April 14, 2015. (Photo: Cole Burston/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Those sources said Kenney came to his decision after meeting with prominent Conservatives including ex-Harper advisor Ian Brodie, ex-MP Monte Solberg and former party campaign manager Tom Flanagan over the past few weekends.
In an email to CTV News Wednesday, the MP did not confirm or deny the news.
"I’m getting very close to making a decision, and will let you know," Kenney wrote.
"If he won, he would be pledging to proceed very quickly to open negotiations with the Wildrose."
— Political scientist Tom Flanagan
The leadership of Alberta's PC party is currently vacant after former premier Jim Prentice steered it to a dismal third-place showing in the 2015 provincial election.
CBC News reported that Kenney renewed his PC membership recently, but there is no confirmation of his candidacy.
Flanagan, a political scientist at the University of Calgary, said Kenney's platform would focus on bringing Alberta's right together.
"If he won, he would be pledging to open negotiations with the Wildrose," Flanagan told the Calgary Herald.
Flanagan added he would personally support Kenney if he decided to run.
Reports say Jason Kenney consulted with former campaign strategist and current political science professor Tom Flanagan, pictured. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
The reports come as Kenney has been touted as a possible candidate for leadership of the federal Conservative Party, a position that is currently held by interim leader Rona Ambrose.
Last week, Kenney said he was keeping his options open when it came to his political future — and he didn't rule out diving into Alberta provincial politics, The Calgary Sun reported.
He told the newspaper that numerous people had approached him to help unite the right in Alberta, which is something that he feels "needs to be done."
The Tories and Wildrose have repeatedly denied any intention to merge, but other conservative groups in the province have pushed for the two parties to unite, or for the creation of a third right-leaning party.
Popular Calgary MP
Kenney was first elected — at the age of 29 — as the MP for Calgary Southeast in 1997 as a member of the Reform Party.
He was then re-elected in every subsequent election, as a member of the Canadian Alliance and then the Conservatives. As of the October 2015 election, he represents the Calgary Midnapore riding in the House of Commons.
Kenney served in numerous cabinet roles under Harper, overseeing portfolios including defence, multiculturalism, immigration and employment and social development.
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