A quarrel within Alberta’s ruling party has taken a new turn, with one of Premier Jason Kenney’s top political aides equating Kenney’s critics on the backbench to clowns.

On Twitter, Bryan Rogers, the chief of staff to Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda, responded to a newspaper story in which several of Kenney’s United Conservative caucus colleagues resumed their criticism of him.

In a tweet, Rogers claims that the criticism comes from “the same old crew,” and an image of gyrating, gesticulating clowns from the TV show “The Simpsons” was attached.

Deputy Speaker Angela Pitt, a Kenney opponent, retaliated on Twitter, saying Rogers’ comment exemplifies Kenney’s staff’s bullying, intimidation, and humiliation of anyone who doesn’t fall in line.

Leela Aheer, a backbencher who was kicked out of the cabinet last year after criticizing the premier, joined the social media brawl, stating that know-it-all leaders who behave in a corrupt manner ought to find a home outside the UCP.

The party is currently holding a mail-in vote to determine whether Kenney should remain as leader, a contest that has exposed deep splits and fueled a painful “soap opera,” as Kenney describes it.

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