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Alberta Politics

Failing Upwards: Kaycee Madu promoted to Justice after disastrous year in Municipal Affairs

Edmonton’s lone United Conservative Party MLA got a big promotion today in a mini-cabinet shuffle. After a year as Minister of Municipal Affairs, Edmonton-South West MLA Kaycee Madu has been appointed as Solicitor General and Minister of Justice.

Madu replaces Doug Schweitzer, who is the new Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, a rebranded Economic Development, Trade and Tourism department. Current EDTT Minister Tanya Fir moves to the backbenches and Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard is the new Municipal Affairs Minister.

Tracy Allard MLA Grande Prairie United Conservative Party
Tracy Allard (source: Facebook)

The mini-cabinet shuffle, the first since the UCP formed government in April 2019, is a minor readjustment and not nearly what many had expected, with controversial Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange retaining their cabinet posts.

Madu’s promotion will be a surprise to many of Alberta’s municipal leaders, who watched the junior cabinet minister take a paternalistic approach to municipal affairs by interfering in the construction of major infrastructure projects, overhauling municipal election laws to the point where the AUMA publicly described its relationship with the minister as “broken,” and sparking an uprising by traditionally docile rural municipalities over exemptions to oil & gas taxes.

It was the uproar in rural Alberta that most likely lead to Madu being shuffled. Dozens of rural municipalities have spoken out against the government exemptions for municipal oil and gas taxes.

Rural governments that were already having a difficult time collecting taxes from oil and gas companies said the new changes imposed by the UCP government force them to hike property and business taxes in their counties. And rural MLAs, who make up the majority of the UCP caucus, have been receiving an earful from normally supportive local leaders over the tax changes.

Doug Schweitzer Calgary Alberta Conservative
Doug Schweitzer

Madu may have spent a year burning bridges with municipalities but he is the only UCP from inside Edmonton city limits and a loyal party soldier, a geographic fact and trait that has now earned him a senior cabinet role. Control of the UCP cabinet and caucus is so firmly held by Premier Jason Kenney and his inner circle of political staff that unflinching loyalty is the key to promotion.

Madu is now expected to oversee changes to the Police Act, and provincial election finance laws proposed by the Select Special Democratic Accountability Committee. He will also oversee the implementation of MLA recall legislation and the Fair Deal report recommendations, the government’s never-ending fight against the federal government over the carbon tax, and the expected referendum on equalization in October 2021.

Doug Schweitzer: This appears to be a demotion for Calgary-Elbow MLA Doug Schweitzer, who has recently been bearing the brunt of the criticism about the public inquiry into anti-Alberta energy campaigns.

The public inquiry, which has been conducted in complete privacy, is over-budget and behind schedule and has had its mandate changed twice since it was formed, suggesting that the one-man commission is having troubling completing its goal of rooting out the alleged global conspiracy against Alberta.

Tanya Fir MLA Calgary Peigan United Conservative Party Alberta
Tanya Fir

Schweitzer’s move signals that the UCP is desperate to recover the “jobs and economy” part of their election slogan that has been sideswiped by the collapse in the international price of oil and economic shutdown in response to COVID-19 pandemic. Schweitzer will be responsible for the new Invest Alberta crown corporation.

Tracy Allard: The first-term MLA from Grande Prairie and owner of Tim Hortons restaurant franchises in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and in Grande Prairie is now the ninth Minister of Municipal Affairs since 2010. Her first order of business will likely be trying to repair some of the many relationships damaged by Madu during his short tenure, and, as Kenney announced in today’s press conference, oversee the creation of a spending report card for municipal governments in Alberta.

Tanya Fir: It is unclear what led to Fir’s demotion to the backbenches. The first-term UCP MLA from Calgary-Peigan appeared to be well-spoken and had not caused much public drama for the government. Fir appears to have avoided controversy but her election campaign manager, long-time conservative activist Craig Chanlder, has never shied from controversy and was recently a featured speaker at a separatist rally.

Who was left out: Not making it into cabinet in this mini-shuffle are a number of UCP MLAs who are rumoured to be cabinet contenders: UCP Caucus chairperson Todd Loewen, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao, Calgary-West MLA Mike Ellis, Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner, and Brooks-Medicine Hat MLA Michaela Glasgo.

Also missing from the shuffle is former UCP finance critic Drew Barnes, now the third-term MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat, who was left out of cabinet when the party formed government last year. Barnes recently made comments in support of separation if Alberta fails to get Ottawa’s attention regarding issues brought forward from the Fair Deal Panel.

15 replies on “Failing Upwards: Kaycee Madu promoted to Justice after disastrous year in Municipal Affairs”

Perhaps not the merit based system to promotions here, but I suppose when you only have one MLA from Edmonton, you might want to give him a job that is less likely to result in him failing badly. Speaking of which, Mr. Schweitzer sure gets a thankless job now doesn’t he, with the state of the economy, the way it is. Didn’t he run for the leadership of something against Kenney? Perhaps this is his ultimate reward.

I suppose there is also a bit of geographic balancing here to with the addition of an MLA from outside of Calgary. However, I also think the most interesting thing is who didn’t get the boot and probably should have. It sure seems like the UCP can be a stubborn bunch once they dig themselves in.

I agree that there is plenty of public sentiment that would have loved to see a shuffle including Health and Education. It’s not surprising that didn’t happen.

Shandro is very close to the Premier and in the midst of a pandemic it would signal that the Minister did a poor job. As unpopular as the battle with Doctors is along with a pro-privatization move the Minister is moving in the direction the Premier wants him to.

Similarly in Education, the Minoster has been a loyal soldier to the Premier taking on the fight with the ATA and delivering just what the Premier wants (including reduced spending). Also days before school begins would be a foolish time to shuffle Education as it would show the Premier didn’t act fast enough to change trajectory if that is what he wanted (he doesn’t want her to change direction).

Just a few observations.

Social media did notice and screen capture Tanya Fir’s apparent attempt to troll herself on social media. How did that happen? A hack, or failure to log out? Was that a step too far?

How’s that Calgary city council slate of UCP affiliates Craig Chandler, Joe Magliocca et al coming along? Any word on the RCMP investigation of Magliocca for fraud yet?

Thanks for another thought provoking blog, Dave.

I think Tyler Shandro’s tenure as Health Minister became rock solid as soon as the AMA had their non-confidence vote. There is no way Jason Kenney is going to let it appear a union is dictating his policy.

AMA vote not withstanding, I really believe both Shandro and Adriana LaGrange are just implementing Jason Keney’s policy, without any actual thought on their own. If this is the case, Kenney needs to keep the ministers in place. If he removed them, when the current problems persisted people would realize the source of the trouble is not with the minister, and start looking at the premier. In short, Shandro and LaGrange are do exactly what Kenney wants them to do; take the blame for his unpopular policies.

I agree. Im pretty sure both would just like to buy labour stability pat themselves on the back and call it a day. However, their bosses want something else. Their bosses being the electorate of Alberta, not Kenney.

Ever heard the term, you cant get blood from a stone?

In this case its, you cant get tax monies from an industry which is non-profitable.

The corollary is, when incomes disappear governments have to do more with less.

And yes, you can thank the previous administration for a good ammount of the self inflicted greif.

Thanks NDP, youre the best!

Bret Larson: You can thank the Alberta PCs for the self inflicted grief that began in the mid 1980s. You can also thank the UCP for making things worse.

How Shandro is still health minister with all his conflicts is a head scratcher, although the UCP is very short on talent. Perhaps the education minister was just left in as a potential “fall gal” if the school opening goes bad. Kenney always insulates himself from direct blame and she would be the perfect scapegoat. As someone who never strays from what she is told to say throughout her career she does make a good UCP minister though.

Let’s see…Tanya Fir was unremarkable (I don’t recall ANY remarks about her), Schweitzer was in the news but not actively hated. I thought I’d heard of Mr. Madu, but couldn’t recall why till I remembered the AUMA’s complaints about election changes. Shandro and LaGrange must be the most-loathed cabinet members in the Kenney Klowns.

So that’s how to be promoted by Jason Kenney. Be outrageously stupid or confrontational. The trick is to take heat off the boss.

Two things the communist author of this blog has wrong.

– Kaycee Madu did an excellent job in Municipal Affairs, in particular in standing up to Nenshi, the worst mayor in Canadian history.
– the big story here is the demotion of Doug Schweitzer. There’s even a campaign afoot to recall him. http://Www.dumpdoug.info. His days are numbered.

Michael Binion: What communist author? The UCP hasn’t done anything excellent, and racking up record debt is not an accomplishment.

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