Premier Notley’s most recent cabinet appointments are quite the head-scratcher. Last Tuesday the Premier announced she was appointing six new cabinet ministers after less than a year in office.
Which is fine as far as it goes, but Notley was told when she appointed her initial dozen ministers last summer she was putting a big workload on inexperienced heads. She turned a deaf ear then. She was also criticized for not having enough representation in her cabinet from southern Alberta; that there was a definite Edmonton drift in her appointees.
She did seek to remedy both situations somewhat with her most recent appointments by adding a few more bodies from Calgary. But looking a little more closely at these appointees, they do not inspire the utmost confidence.
Alberta’s new minister of Labour and Democratic Renewal Christina Gray, (another Edmontonian by way), worked as a software developer and computer skills teacher before being elected as MLA in 2015. She will be tapped to take over the contentious Bill 6 policy in the government. (The former minister in charge of the fiasco Lori Sigurdson was demoted to Seniors and Housing from Labour last Tuesday). One has to wonder how does a former computer teacher have the right skills to deal with such a complex and messy file? It should be an interesting few months ahead.
Stephanie McLean from Calgary-Varsity will be the new minister of Service Alberta and Status of Women. However, she is expecting a new baby soon and will presently be on maternity leave for several months before she has any chance to do any work on her file. Two other ministers will pick up the slack in her absence. She may be qualified for this position, but why appoint her now and not after she returns from maternity leave? She will be able to collect a larger ministers’ salary and not do one bit of work to earn it.
Ricardo Miranda, (38 years-old from Calgary), will be Alberta’s new minister of Culture and Tourism. Arguably this will be one of the most important files over the next few years as Alberta seeks to attract more visitors to the province to offset losses in other sectors. What are his qualifications? He is a former flight attendant and union organizer with a degree in humanities. He was still a university student working on a second degree in industrial relations when he was elected last year by less than 100 votes. Now he is being trusted to foster and grow an industry worth upward of $8 billion to the provincial economy. It’s certainly a creative appointment on Notley’s part anyway.
Marlin Schmidt, (Edmonton again), is the new minister of Advanced Education. Unlike most of the other cabinet appointees on this list Schmidt is a scientist with practical field experience who holds a graduate degree in his chosen field. Likely he will work out alright.
And finally Brandy Payne from Calgary was appointed associate minister of Health as her boss, (Health Minister Sarah Hoffman), takes on additional responsibilities as Deputy Premier. Payne was a journalist before being elected and she teaches yoga. Yoga can be described as health-related one supposes.
Welcome to the new Alberta where any Joe or Jane on the street can aspire to be in cabinet one day! We’re living the dream.