Thoughts on yesterday’s cabinet shuffle…
– PC leadership candidate Dave Hancock‘s replacement in the Advanced Education portfolio is Calgary Egmont MLA and Education and Employment Standing Policy Committee Chair Denis Herard. The jury is still out on Minister Herard.
– Keen watchers will have noticed that Hancock’s abdication from cabinet leaves Edmonton with one less voice in cabinet. As much as I’m not surprised that they picked Herard (I actually predicted it!), I’m still surprised that Klein decided pass of the Edmonton region for a new Minister. This means that Alberta’s capital city now only has one MLA at the cabinet table (Liberal-turned-Tory Education Minister and Edmonton Mill Creek MLA Gene Zwozdesky).
Then again, with the only other “real” Edmonton choice for cabinet being Edmonton Castle Downs MLA Thomas Lukaszuk, Denis Herard doesn’t look that bad.
– After 16 years of wilting in the backbenches, Little Bow MLA Barry McFarland has finally made it to cabinet! Albeit, as an Associate Minister (which sounds suspiciously like something that’s created for MLA’s the Premier doesn’t feel are up to the job of being a “real” Minister).
McFarland was originally elected in a March 2, 1991 by-election, in which he narrowly defeated Liberal Donna Graham by 262 votes.
– Moved from one obscure portfolio to another was banished former-Health Minister Gary Mar, who was shuffled from Community Development to Intergovernmental and International Affairs.
– Also shuffled was ancient Minister Ty Lund (more affectionately known as “Forest Stump” by former Redwater Liberal MLA Nick Taylor during Lund’s tenure as Minister of “Environmental Protection” in the early-1990’s). Lund has represented the riding of Rocky Mountain House since 1989 and has been a fixture in Klein’s cabinet since 1994.
– Emerging from the far depths of the Tory backbenches are Whitecourt – Ste. Anne MLA George VanderBurg as Government Services Minister and Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA Denis Ducharme as Community Development Minister.
VanderBurg was first elected in 2001 following the resignation of Tory warhorse Peter Trynchy. Ducharme was first elected in 1997, unseating one-term Liberal MLA Leo Vasseur.
Though it is yet to be seen how much faith the people of daveberta will have in George VanderBurg, I am pleased to see that Mr. Ducharme has finally made it in to cabinet. As the head of the province’s Francophone Secretariat, I hope he will be successful in bringing Franco-Albertan issues to the cabinet table.
– Final thoughts, all three of the new Ministers are known as strong Klein loyalists. I wouldn’t predict that any of them will make very many waves in cabinet. Though, I suppose after the Oberg affair, Klein wants to get back to auto-pilot.
– So, for those of you keeping score (and I know I am),
Rural Alberta = 1 new Minister (score!)
Calgary = 1 new Minister (score!)
Edmonton = minus 1 Minister (ouch)