Wildrose leader Brian Jean apologizes for joking about beating Alberta Premier Rachel Notley

Vincent McDermott, Postmedia News

Wildrose leader Brian Jean is apologizing after he joked during a town hall forum in Fort McMurray about beating Premier Rachel Notley.

Jean made the comment Tuesday evening, when local seniors advocate Joan Furber complained about the quality of seniors’ care and housing in the city during a question and answer period.

“I’ve been beating this drum for 10, 11 years,” said Jean. “I will continue to beat it, I promise. But it’s against the law to beat Rachel Notley.”

Much of the audience laughed, while other corners of the room gasped in shock. Most members of the Wildrose caucus, who are meeting in Fort McMurray this week for caucus meetings, were scattered throughout the room.

I will continue to beat it, I promise. But it’s against the law to beat Rachel Notley

Tany Yao, Wildrose MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, stepped in and described how the Wildrose is advocating for high quality seniors’ living in Fort McMurray. Jean then apologized for his joke, insisting that Notley cares about the topic and has cooperated with Jean.

“We had some more conversations and she switched the decision the bureaucrats made in the previous government,” he said.

“I have to compliment that woman and I shouldn’t have said what I said because I truly admire her for that,” said Jean. “That was a very practical thing and not easily in her best interest and she could have easily just let that go like the previous government did, and she did not.”

Jean was praising Notley for moving a planned long-term care facility from Parsons Creek to the downtown Willow Square site last year.

David Bloom

David BloomPremier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Leader of the opposition and Wildrose MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin Brian Jean, during a press conference in Edmonton on May 18, 2016.

For years, seniors had complained the Parsons Creek location was underdeveloped, and too far from the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre and downtown. Willow Square is also the site of a planned Aging in Place facility.

Jean then led the room in an applause for Notley’s actions on the topic.

An email a Wildrose spokesperson sent after the town hall meeting said Jean had reached out to Notley and apologized.

“Tonight during my town hall I made an inappropriate attempt at humour that I promptly apologized for,” he said in the email. “Jokes of this nature are never acceptable, and I hold myself to a higher standard.”

A spokesperson from Notley’s office could not be reached.

For the rest of the meeting, much of the public questions focused on the future of the party, pipelines and the provincial deficit, rather than the pace of reconstruction, which Jean has criticized as being too slow.

“We’re tired of subsidizing the mayor of Montreal,” said Fort McMurray man Derek Quesnel, who asked if it ending equalization payments was a possibility in the near future.

“We’re tired of it as well,” replied Jean. “There is a way to deal with it, and that is negotiation and that’s what I would like to try. I think we have the opportunity to try, especially in the current financial situation were in.”

Another man asked for Jean’s thoughts on PC leadership candidate and Conservative MP Jason Kenney and his plans to unite Canada’s conservative parties.

“I think the best way for Jason Kenney to unite the right would be to come join the Wildrose,” said Jean.

“We think the PCs should decide who they are and who they stand up for, because they don’t really know who they’re for or against,” he said. “We’ll let the PCs decide who they want to pick as a leader and we’ll talk about it from there. But as far as Jason Kenney goes, I knew him in Ottawa for 10 years, I worked with him, he’s fine. He’s a hardworking guy.”

Wildrose leader Brian Jean apologizes for joking about beating Alberta Premier Rachel Notley


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