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Jean quits politics, again

The former leader of Alberta's Opposition is quitting the legislature, months after losing a bid to lead the province's new United Conservative Party.

Brian Jean said in a statement that now is an important time to "draw closer" to his family as well as finally rebuild his home, which was destroyed in a massive wildfire that hit Fort McMurray in 2016.

Jean was leader of the Wildrose party in the 2015 election that saw the NDP win power after more than 40 years of Progressive Conservative rule.

His right-of-centre party merged last year with the PCs under then Tory leader and former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney to form the UCP, but Jean lost to Kenney to become leader of the new party.

"Last fall, I was proud to run for the leadership of our United Conservative Party and was incredibly touched by the support I received," Jean said in the news release.

"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."

Before provincial politics, Jean was a lawyer and businessman who later became a Conservative MP representing the former constituency of Fort McMurray-Athabasca.

Kenney issued his own news release thanking Jean for his contributions to the conservative cause, especially as Leader of the Opposition and as a member of the legislature.

"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," Kenney stated.

After Kenney defeated Jean in the leadership contest in October, Jean was not given a critic portfolio, which Jean said was his wish.

At that time, Jean said he wanted to focus on his family and his constituents in Fort McMurray-Conklin. He also said he wanted to see what direction the United Conservatives would take at their founding policy convention in the spring before deciding whether to run in the next election in 2019.



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