In reaction to the Alberta Liberal victory in the June 12 Calgary Elbow by-election, Ed Stelmach has added three Associate Ministers to his cabinet. Here are my thoughts on the move:
– A cabinet shuffle this early is a very odd move for a Premier that has yet to receive a mandate from the electorate.
– Appointing Gene Zwozdesky (Edmonton Mill Creek) puts two of three Edmonton Tory MLAs at the cabinet table (does Zwozdesky get a ‘half-seat?’). Zwozdesky’s responsibilities surround “capital planning,” something that suffered greatly over the past decade under the Tories. This may also give Zwozdesky a boost if he decides to run for re-election next Spring (Zwozdesky was re-elected by 781 votes in 2004).
In a related position, Yvonne Fritz (Calgary Cross) becomes Associate Minister of Affordable Housing and Urban Development. I’m not convinced that these two new Associate Minister appointments will actually solve the problems facing Albertans (ie: municipal funding, infrastructure, affordable housing) as what is needed is action and policy change – not the creation of new political jobs with hefty pay increases.
– In an odd move, Cindy Ady (Calgary Shaw) becomes Associate Minister of Tourism Promotion (with responsibility for Alberta’s participation in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver). I’m not quite sure why Alberta needs an Associate Minister of Olympics, but Hector Goudreau needs all the help he can get. I wonder how Mark Norris is feeling this week…
– All three newly appointed Associate Ministers supported Jim Dinning in the PC Leadership selection.
– Both Fritz and Zwozdesky were Ministers in Ralph Klein’s cabinets. All three supported Jim Dinning in the 2006 PC Leadership selection.
– These appointments raise serious concerns about the effectiveness of the Cabinet Policy Committees created after Stelmach became Premier.
– Appointing Justice Minister Ron Stevens as Deputy Premier is substantial only in a superficial manner. Considering that no one noticed when no Deputy Premier was appointed in December, it’s hard to say that this is anything more than bestowing another title. That said, Stelmach would be smart to move closer to veteran Ministers like Stevens and Dave Hancock – as surrounding himself with rookie rural Ministers Ray Danyluk, Lloyd Snelgrove, and Luke Ouellette hasn’t done him much good.
This all occurred the day before the release of a new Ipsos poll released on Saturday that shows party support sitting near 2004 levels (the more things change…).