Kenney Cabinet Takes Office, Sets New Course for Alberta

Jason Kenney has been sworn-in as the 18th Premier of Alberta.  He also announced his new cabinet in Edmonton.  Given that only Kenney and Calgary MLA Ric McIver had previous cabinet experience at any level, Kenney’s cabinet ministers will have to be quick studies on the files within their portfolios.  In addition, fourteen of the new ministers are rookie MLAs.

The cabinet consists of 20 ministers (including Kenney) and three associate ministers.  Former Premier Rachel Notley’s last Cabinet had 21 ministers including herself, although her first cabinet in 2015 only had 12 members.

Regionally, Calgary received the greatest number of seats at the cabinet table with twelve ministers from the city being appointed.  This makes up over half the cabinet, but also reflects the reality that Calgary delivered Kenney’s sizable win over the NDP.  Some key appointments in Calgary include long-time energy industry executive Sonya Savage as Energy Minister; former leadership contestant Doug Schweitzer as Minister of Justice; Tyler Shandro at Health; and Ric McIver reprising his former role in the Prentice government as Transportation Minister.

The reality for the UCP is different in Edmonton with only one UCP MLA, Kaycee Madu, being elected in Edmonton Southwest.  He will be busy as the government’s sole representative for the city and as Municipal Affairs Minister.  Nate Glubish from Sherwood Park, a neighbourhood just outside Edmonton, will also have a role representing the city as Service Alberta minister.

Central Alberta has four Ministers, with northern Alberta (Travis Toews at Finance and Treasury Board) and southern Alberta (Leela Aheer) each receiving a portfolio.

The appointments of Toews to Finance and Jason Nixon to Environment are interesting to note.  Finance Ministers in Alberta tend to be from Calgary, whereas Toews is from Grande Prairie.  Given the carbon tax debate, Nixon will play an important role in defending the UCP’s environmental platform.

The challenge, of course, in winning a large majority is managing the caucus and their expectations.  Of the pre-election UCP caucus members, only six of the 25 UCP MLAs have served in cabinet (Jason Nixon, Ric McIver, Leela Aheer, Prasad Panda, Grant Hunter and Devin Dreeshen).  The issue of having so many new caucus members is of Premier Kenney’s own making.  He deliberately went out and recruited several high-profile candidates, some of whom were selected for cabinet today.  Given Kenney’s experience in government, we expect that Kenney will find a role for other caucus members to ensure they are engaged.

Kenney has laid out an ambitious agenda with a 117-page platform containing 375 commitments.  His cabinet and caucus have already started their work and we expect to see a lot of activity from this government that has vowed to get Alberta back on track, with some decisions being made as early as this afternoon.

The list of cabinet members and portfolios follows below:

Jason Kenney Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
Demetrios Nicolaides Minister of Advanced Education
Devin Dreeshen Minister of Agriculture and Forestry
Rebecca Schulz Minister of Children’s Services
Rajan Sawhney Minister of Community and Social Services
Leela Aheer Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women
Tanya Fir Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism
Adriana LaGrange Minister of Education
Sonya Savage Minister of Energy and Deputy House Leader
Jason Nixon Minister of Environment and Parks, and Government House Leader
Tyler Shandro Minister of Health
Rick Wilson Minister of Indigenous Relations
Prasad Panda Minister of Infrastructure
Doug Schweitzer Minister of Justice and Solicitor General; and Deputy House Leader
Jason Copping Minister of Labour and Immigration
Kaycee Madu Minister of Municipal Affairs
Josephine Pon Minister of Seniors and Housing
Nate Glubish Minister of Service Alberta
Ric McIver Minister of Transportation and Deputy House Leader
Travis Toews Minister of Treasury Board and Finance
Jason Luan Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
Dale Nally Associate Minister of Natural Gas
Grant Hunter Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction