Alberta Politics

Redford’s Christmas cabinet shuffle

Premier Alison Redford Cabinet Alberta
Premier Alison Redford announced a new cabinet late this afternoon.

As reported yesterday on this blog, rumours that Ms. Redford would shuffle her cabinet before the Christmas break began to intensify this week. Today, those rumours proved to be true.

Built around the government’s “Building Alberta” slogan, today’s Government of Alberta press release boasts a new cabinet that will focus on “innovation and economic growth.” And it signals a growth in numbers of Ms. Redford’s cabinet as well. The size of the cabinet will now be 30 MLAs, up from 27 MLAs in the previous cabinet. There are a total of 59 MLAs in the Progressive Conservative caucus.

Here is a description of some major changes in Alberta’s provincial cabinet:

Dave Hancock MLA Edmonton-Whitemud
Dave Hancock

Dave Hancock: Appointed Deputy Premier and moved from Human Services to Innovation and Advanced Education. Moving Mr. Hancock back to the Advanced Education portfolio he filled from 2004 to 2006 likely signals that Ms. Redford recognizes the need to repair the damage done to Alberta’s colleges and universities under its previous minister. The deep budget cuts imposed by Ms. Redford’s government in 2012 damaged both the post-secondary education system and the government’s relationship the leaders in that system. A well-known policy wonk and party loyalist, Mr. Hancock will be tasked with smoothing over those hard feelings.

Thomas Lukaszuk: The bull-dog of the Progressive Conservative caucus lost his Deputy Premier title and is moved from Enterprise & Advanced Education to a new Jobs, Skills, Training, and Labour portfolio. As Ms. Redford’s ‘heavy-hand’ in cabinet, it is likely that Mr. Lukaszuk will be tasked with imposing controversial new laws on Alberta’s public sector unions.

Manmeet Bhullar
Manmeet Bhullar

Manmeet Bhullar: Moved from Service Alberta to Human Services. This is a big promotion, as Human Services is a large ministry that represents a multitude of components of government services. Mr. Bhullar performed well as Minister of Service Alberta, but this portfolio will present a significant challenge to the new minister.

Diana McQueen: Moved from Environment & Sustainable Resource Development to Energy. With an increased focus on the government’s agenda to support the Keystone XL, Enbridge Northern Gateway and Energy East pipelines, the capable Ms. McQueen is well-armed with arguments to use in advocating for these projects in Canada and the United States.

Robin Campbell: Moved from Aboriginal Relations to Environment & Sustainable Resource Development, a high-profile position which is closely linked with the Energy portfolio. He is also now the Government House leader, a role that has been filled by Mr. Hancock for quite some time.

Doug Griffiths
Doug Griffiths

Doug Griffiths: Demoted from Municipal Affairs to Service Alberta. As Municipal Affairs Minister, Mr. Griffiths stumbled through the high profile items in his portfolio, making his demotion almost inevitable. As minister of the tiny Service Alberta department, Mr. Griffiths will have less chance to embarrass the government and an opportunity to redeem himself in cabinet.

Ken Hughes: Moved from Energy to Municipal Affairs. While this move could easily be seen as a demotion, Mr. Hughes, a trusted confident of Ms. Redford’s, will have an important role in repairing the provincial government’s strained relationship with its municipal leaders – both in the large cities and rural municipalities.

Frank Oberle: Promoted from Associate Minister of Services for Persons with Disabilities to a full-cabinet position as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Mr. Oberle previously served as Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security and Minister of Sustainable Resource Development.

Wayne Drysdale: Moved from Infrastructure to Transportation, replacing Ric McIver.

Ric McIver: Moved from Transportation to Infrastructure, replacing Wayne Drysdale.

Steve Young: Left his position as Government Whip to become Associate Minister of Public Safety, a new position.

Donna Kennedy-Glans: Departed the backbenchers to become Associate Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, a new position.

George VanderBurg: Appointed the Government Whip. Lost his position as Associate Minister of Seniors. Mr. VanderBurg had previously served as Minister of Government Services, Minister of Seniors, and Acting Minister of Innovation and Science.

A curious addition to the list of cabinet positions in the press release included the Progressive Conservative Caucus Chair, Maureen Kubinec. This appears to be a new addition to the cabinet, though the release was unclear what role this MLA will have at the cabinet table, as there now only remain 29 PC MLAs not included in the list of cabinet positions.

20 replies on “Redford’s Christmas cabinet shuffle”

I should also add the “promotion” of Manmeet is superficial as Human Services likely just got a lot smaller with the Ministry of Jobs and Such which is a big part of the existing Human Services Ministry. Also, one should take note of precedence.

The politicians and the public never understand the huge cost of these constant reorganizations and this is the reason why government is so slow. It’ll take at least six months to fully reorganize some these ministries that are getting pulled apart and reassembled, work stops because new ministers have different priorities and no one knows what they are so all the work underway stops. In many cases money spent getting projects going turns out to be a huge waste because a new minister doesn’t want it anymore. Even just the cost of creating new materials related to ministry name changes. The time spent doing stupid items such as changing the department name on all the websites.
And none of this is communicated to staff, so hundreds if not thousands of government workers will spend the weekend stewing about what is happening to their jobs and if they’re getting transferred and what happens to the work they’ve been doing.
Announcing this at 5 p.m. on a Friday is an insult.

@Colin – Good point about Human Services. I expect that Mr. Lukaszuk’s new portfolio will be similar to the former Employment and Immigration ministry that was rolled into Human Services in 2012.

Also, good question about the Associate Ministers. I expect they are present at the cabinet table when issues related to their portfolio are discusses. I wonder if an MLA’s pay increases or if they are allotted additional staff when appointed as Associate Minister?

I totally agree with the above comment. There’s a further insidiousness in that a lot of stuff gets rushed through in order to bring it to fruition in time for the next merry go round. New ministers want to put their stamp on things so a lot of stupid ideas get put forward and it takes a lot of needless time to temper their egos and allow rational argument to at least be heard. Ultimately unnecessary cabinet reshuffles and portfolio realignments cost the Alberta tax payer a hell of a lot more than some of the labour requests. Are metrics ever run on the actual dollars? No, because then the gvt would have to be held to account.

Also, still waiting to be officially told I have a new minister. Like the wage freeze, heard it first through the media. Poor show.

Wild Rose and Liberals are looking better each day. Change your vote if you want change, whining won’t fix it.

The core structure of ministries should really be in legislation. The constant shifts and re-orgs that the bureaucracy has to implement is rather pointless and really doesn’t serve politicians in the long term.

Energy couldn’t ask for a better minister – obedient & compliant McQueen will willingly read talking points & present more legislation written by industry

The Redford government is exploring plans to privatize our land titles system, selling off a public asset — built with millions of our tax dollars — to an Ontario-based private, for-profit corporation called Teranet.

Griffiths is the new minister for Service Alberta.

With Bhullar gone, will they still proceed to privatize the land titles system?

Wow, Redford really put the “shuffle” in to cabinet shuffle, eh? Almost all the same faces, just with different assignments here and there. What a waste of time and money. She didn’t even attempt to solve some of her political problems, such as the anger built up towards Health Minister Fred Horne. If this is to be her “election 2016” cabinet, well, ah… good luck? I, for one, am looking forward to the much smaller cabinet Premier Danielle Smith will present to us after the 2016 election.

Regarding Troy’s comment on lack of communication and frustration for staff: the provincial government already has a huge amount of turnover and this kind of turmoil only makes things worse. People might think these “excercises in optics” are easy to get through, “oh, they just get new business cards and stationery and Bob’s your uncle — they get back to work.” But in actuality, these shifts mean entirely new reporting lines, business plans, policy directions and regulations. Staff who have been working for 20 plus years are used to these pendulum swings, but the noobs (5 to 10 years in) don’t like the constant change and look for reasons to get out. The public service is getting older and weaker from this shuffling deck chairs.

Well at least Allison recognized Thomas for his skills (few other than self promotion). He’s in a dead end portfolio that will see him promote stupid policy. If he pulls it off he deserves recognition for getting folks to adopt something that makes no sense. If he succeeds I’d suggest a promotion to the Health portfolio.

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