Alberta Tories Cabinet Shuffle Ed Stelmach

ministerial musings of the third kind.

Over the weekend, I had some thoughts on Alberta PC Premier Ed Stelmach’s new Cabinet… I was originally going to write them down in Haiku, but I decided this was easier…

ALBERTA PC CABINET 2006 – Composition…

SEX: It’s a great time to be a white male Alberta Tory MLA between the ages of 40 and 60. You scored big! There are only 2 women and no visible minorities in Stelmach’s first Cabinet.

GEOGRAPHY: Rural Alberta scored big over Alberta’s two biggest cities in this cabinet (see map).

Northern Alberta specifically scored big with eight MLA’s making it to the Cabinet table: Hector Goudreau (Dunvegan-Central Peace), Mel Knight (Grande Prairie-Smoky), Guy Boutilier (Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo), Ray Danyluk (Lac La Biche-St. Paul), Lloyd Snelgrove (Vermilion-Lloydminster), Doug Horner (Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert), Fred Lindsay (Stony Plain), and Iris Evans (Sherwood Park). And of course, Tory Premier Ed Stelmach (Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville).

Central/Southern Alberta has six Cabinet Ministers rolling the die at the Cabinet table. Ted Morton (Foothills-Rockyview), Janis Tarchuk (Banff-Cochrane), George Groenveld (Highwood), Lyle Oberg (Strathmore-Brooks), and Rob Renner (Medicine Hat). Lethbridge is left out of the cabinet room this time around as three long-time Lethbridge and area Tory MLA’s Clint Dunford (Lethrbridge West), Barry McFarland (Little Bow), and David Coutts (Livingstone-Macleod) have been sent to the backbenches. The City of Red Deer’s representatives Victor Doerksen (Red Deer South) and Mary Anne Jablonski(Red Deer North) are also not missing from the Cabinet table. This is the first time Red Deer has not been home to a Cabinet Minister in over 15 years.

Edmonton now has only one Cabinet Minister – Dave Hancock (Edmonton Whitemud) – and Calgary has only thee – Ron Stevens (Calgary Glenmore), Ron Liepert (Calgary West), and Greg Melchin (Calgary North West). The only other “urban” MLA’s being Iris Evans (Sherwood Park) and Rob Renner (Medicine Hat). This leaves “urban Alberta” with 6 representatives at the Cabinet table.

PORTFOLIO: New powerful Cabinet portfolios include a newly created President of the Treasury Board – manned by the untested new Cabinet Minister Lloyd Snelgrove, Advanced Education and Technology – manned by former Ag Minister Doug Horner, Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry – manned by Iris Evans, and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing – manned by Ray Danyluk. Gone are the Ministries of Gaming (phew~!), Innovation & Science, and RAGE to name a few. Downsized is the Ministries of Finance held by former PC leadership candidate Lyle Oberg.

THE BOOT: Ministers from Ralph Klein’s last dynastic Ministry who have been put out to pasture include Shirley McClellan (Drumheller-Stettler), Ty Lund (Rocky Mountain House), Gary Mar (Calgary Mackay), Harvey Cenaiko (Calgary Buffalo), Heather Forsyth (Calgary Fish Creek), Denis Herard (Calgary Egmont), Barry McFarland (Little Bow), Clint Dunford (Lethbridge West), Pearl Calahasen (Lesser Slave Lake), Gordon Graydon (Grande Prairie-Wapiti), Mike Cardinal (Athabasca-Redwater), and Denis Ducharme (Bonnyville-Cold Lake).

POST-LEADERSHIP: It should be interesting to see if Premier Ed Stelmach is able to build this caucus in to a functional team. With nearly 40 of the 62 PC MLA’s supporting Calgarian Jim Dinning in the Alberta PC Leadership race, it should be interesting to see how they react to leader Ed Stelmach in the coming months. Considering that all but one Calgary PC MLA supported Jim Dinning (Hung Pham (Calgary Montrose) supported Ted Morton)I expect to see a large number of PC MLA’s retire before the next election.

TO BE SEEN: With Assembly Speaker Ken Kowalski (Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock) openly endorsing Jim Dinning before the second ballot of the Alberta PC leadership race, will Kowalski be able to muster support to be re-elected Speaker when Premier Stelmach reconvenes the Legislature in Spring 2007? Or will Premier Ed Stelmach attempt to purge the Speaker’s Office and make way for a new Speaker?

How will the lack of Calgary Minsterial representation effect the political psyche of Calgarians? Edmontonians are used to it, but until Ralph Klein‘s selection as PC leader and then Premier in 1992, Calgarians were waining in their political support for the Alberta Progressive Conservatives (as shown in 1989 when Calgarians elected 3 Liberal and 2 NDP MLA’s in their midst). Will the northern Alberta based Stelmach Conservatives see a backlash for their downsizing of the Calgary Cabinet contingent? A strong indicator will be a potential by-election in Ralph Klein’s riding of Calgary Elbow following his resignation on January 15, 2007. The Alberta Liberals had a strong showing in Calgary Elbow in 2004 despite Klein’s Premiership. The results will no doubt be interesting…

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