Albertans appointed to the Federal Cabinet
Two Alberta Conservative MPs were included in a recent cabinet shuffle in Ottawa. Macleod MP Ted Menzies was appointed as the Minister of State (Finance) and Calgary-Nose Hill MP Diane Ablonczy was appointed as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas). These two minor appointments were meant to offset the loss of Environment Minister Jim Prentice from the federal cabinet in Ottawa.
Provincial Cabinet Shuffle
The Spring Sitting of the Legislative Assembly could be delayed by the PCs. In preparation for the next election, Premier Ed Stelmach is expected to bring in some new faces and ask old faces planning to retire in the expected March 2012 election to step aside. Three Ministers prime for retirement appear to include Environment Minister Rob Renner, Children and Youth Services Minister Minister Yvonne Fritz, and Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky, who will have each served as MLAs for 18 years by the time of the next election is expected. Also rumoured for retirement include Education Minister Dave Hancock and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Iris Evans, who were first elected in 1997. Potential additions to a new cabinet could include Parliamentary Assistants Drayton Valley-Calmar MLA Diana McQueen, Athabasca-Redwater MLA Jeff Johnson, and Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger.
Raj Against the Machine Tour
Independent Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Raj Sherman is hitting the road this spring on a province-wide town hall tour to hear Albertans’ views on health care. Dr. Sherman was kicked out of the PC caucus in November 2010 when he publicly criticized the PC government’s record on health care and singled out former Health Minister Ron Liepert as a problem. The good Doctor Sherman is also the newest MLA to join Twitter, where he can be found at @RajShermanMLA
NDP tackle the Tories on Long-term Care
NDP MLA Brian Mason raised some fair criticisms of the PC Government’s handling of Long-term Care as the new Villa Caritas facility opened near the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton. Many of the beds in the Covenant Health-operated Villa Caritas were originally slated as Long-term Care spaces, but were later changed to include geriatric mental health patients transferred from Alberta Hospital Edmonton. According to the NDP, there are more than 600 people on the waiting list for long-term care beds in Edmonton.
Alberta Party leadership candidates emerge.
Chris Tesarski is the first person to publicly declare their candidacy for the leadership of the new Alberta Party. Mr. Tesarski is the owner of a Calgary-based energy company Sandbox Energy Corporation and has listed an extensive biography on his website.
Also expected to join the contest is three-term Town of Hinton Mayor Glenn Taylor, who is expected to launch his campaign for the new Alberta Party leadership in the next few weeks. Mayor Taylor was first elected to his current job in 2004. This would not be his first foray into provincial politics as he was the NDP candidate in West Yellowhead in the 1997 General Election when he placed a strong third with 20% of the vote.
Around the world in 21 days
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Iris Evans is gearing up for a trip around the globe that will land her in Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom from January 10 to 31, 2011. Cypress-Medicine Hat PC MLA Len Mitzel recently travelled to Texas for a three day trip to a meeting of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance meeting. I generally support sending representatives to promote Alberta internationally, but with the total amount of travel time being logged by cabinet ministers and PC MLAs, now might be the time to have a serious discussion about the value of these trips.
The Alberta-China Connection
The Calgary Herald has published the first of a four part series of articles written by Jason Fekete investigating the Province of Alberta’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China.
Wildrose nominations heat up
The Wildrose Alliance lost a candidate when Milvia Bauman resigned last week, but that party is still attracting candidates in other constituencies. In Calgary-McCall, a contest will see Khalil Karbani and Grant Galpin face off for the nomination. Mr. Gaplin is listed as the Spokesperson for the Airport Trail Access Committee, which has been Liberal MLA Darshan Kang‘s Number 1 issue in the Assembly over the past year. On the other side of north Calgary, Kevin Dick is standing for the Wildrose nomination in Calgary-Varsity.
Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.