Premier wants the ‘right people’ in cabinet for economic recovery work
With a great “fiscal reckoning” on the horizon and major “fair deal” policy in the works, Premier Jason Kenney shook up his cabinet for the first time since taking office.
The premier said the shakeup was necessary because he needs the “right people” around the cabinet table as the province preps its economic recovery strategy.
“This is going to be the biggest deficit in the history of Alberta by a country mile,” Kenney told reporters.
Fir out, Schweitzer demoted to economic development
That means the shaft for Tanya Fir, who was dropped from cabinet. Doug Schweitzer takes up her economic development, trade and tourism portfolio, which has been rebranded as jobs, economy and innovation.
The ex-solicitor general will also coordinate the province’s economic recovery plan, a role Kenney deemed “critical.”
Schweitzer will work in tandem with Labour Minister Jason Copping on more labour reforms scheduled for release this fall.
Kenney thanked Fir for her service only after being prompted by a reporter (she wasn’t mentioned in the official news release).
Madu becomes Canada’s first Black justice minister
Kaycee Madu was promoted to justice minister and solicitor general, replacing Schweitzer, and becoming the first Black justice minister in Canada, per Kenney.
Having a Black solicitor general is important at a time of heightened awareness of the impact of policing on Black and Indigenous people, Kenney told reporters.
Madu will lead the Police Act review, as well as probe the possibility of creating a provincial police force, help hire Alberta’s first chief firearms officer, launch the upcoming Alberta Parole Board and lead the province’s legal fight against the federal carbon tax.
He will also be crafting referendum questions including on equalization and other “fair deal” recommendations, as well as writing recall legislation.
Allard promoted to municipal affairs file
Tracy Allard, the UCP MLA for Grande Prairie, got an upgrade from the backbench and is now serving as the minister of municipal affairs.
Kenney described Allard as having “a little bit of Margaret Thatcher in her” with “an iron fist in a velvet glove.”
NDP Finance critic Shannon Phillips said the cabinet shuffle was “cosmetic” and lacked specifics on job creation and economic diversification.
“I’m not at all surprised Tanya Fir was shuffled out — she appeared rather incompetent to my reading of the situation,” Phillips said. “But this failure isn’t hers. This is about the premier and the tone from the top.”
Premier reiterates confidence in Shandro
When asked about the tense relationship between Health Minister Tyler Shandro and the province’s health-care professionals, including physicians who passed a non-confidence motion against him, Kenney said he backs Shandro 100 per cent.
“Tyler has done what he has to do to stop the out of control increase in physician compensation costs,” Kenney said. “I support that kind of tough leadership.”
This is the first cabinet shuffle for the UCP government and the last public act for outgoing Lieutenant-Governor Lois Mitchell, who will end her tenure today.