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Brown’s campaign manager joins Michelle Rempel Garner for possible UCP leadership bid

Rempel Garner has yet to declare whether or not she’s going to enter the contest
Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Garner is mulling a possible run at Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s job as leader of the United Conservative Party following his announcement last month that he was resigning after only narrowly surviving a leadership review. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Patrick Brown’s campaign manager has left to help Michelle Rempel Garner with her possible bid to lead the United Conservative Party in Alberta.

Brown’s Conservative leadership campaign says Sean Schnell has stepped away to follow Rempel Garner, who announced last week she was leaving her role as Brown’s national co-chair.

Rempel Garner is considering a run to replace Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in his job as leader of the provincial party, following his decision to resign after narrowly surviving a leadership review last month.

Schnell had worked for Rempel Garner’s office before either leadership race began.

Chisholm Pothier, a spokesman for Brown, said Schnell stuck around for a few days after deciding to go with Rempel Garner so that he could help the team through the transition.

Pothier says Fred DeLorey, who served as the federal party’s national campaign manager for the 2021 federal election, remains on the team as the executive chairman.

Rempel Garner has yet to declare whether or not she’s going to enter the contest, but was recently granted an enabling waiver because UCP rules require candidates to have been a party member for at least six months.

Over the past month, Brown has lost the support of two Conservative MPs — Ontario’s Kyle Seeback and Dan Muys — to his main rival for the leadership, Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre.

Brown’s campaign has brushed off their decisions, saying it counts for just two votes out of the more than 150,000 new members it says he signed up.

Poilievre has said he sold nearly 312,000 memberships — a record-breaking number — and asked the party to validate those figures, which it has declined to do.

With the party looking at having a voting base of more than 600,000 members, it is working to get a national list of their names to campaigns no later than July 4.

But at least one campaign is calling for a voter list to be released in the interim.

Mike Coates, the chairman of Jean Charest’s leadership campaign, wrote earlier in the week to the head of the party’s leadership election organizing committee asking for it to release a list of the members it has to date.

“We know that because of the significant processing delays at headquarters, many people purchased a duplicate membership because they did not receive a confirmation that they were a member and eligible to vote in the leadership race,” Coates wrote in a letter, which Charest posted to Twitter on Wednesday.

In this letter Coates went on to cite “worrisome” reports that membership sales numbers have been inflated.

“We trust party headquarters’ ability to weed out duplicates and ineligible members, but we also believe the campaigns need transparency on where these duplicates originated.”

The winner of the Conservative leadership race is scheduled to be announced in Ottawa on Sept. 10.