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Redford mixes old and new in cabinet

Premier Alison Redford unveiled her new cabinet Wednesday, a mix of familiar and new faces, young and veteran politicians, and rural and urban constituencies.
Local MLA Doug Horner takes an oath during the swearing-in of Premier Alison Redford’s new cabinet at Government House in Edmonton on Wednesday. Horner is
Local MLA Doug Horner takes an oath during the swearing-in of Premier Alison Redford’s new cabinet at Government House in Edmonton on Wednesday. Horner is Redford’s deputy premier and treasury board president.

Premier Alison Redford unveiled her new cabinet Wednesday, a mix of familiar and new faces, young and veteran politicians, and rural and urban constituencies.

Including Redford, it is a 21-member cabinet, which includes two local MLAs: Doug Horner, MLA for Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert, will be deputy premier and president of the treasury board, and Athabasca-Redwater MLA Jeff Johnson will be infrastructure minister.

As well, St. Albert MLA Ken Allred will sit on the cabinet policy committee on energy.

Redford said the new cabinet is going to help her deliver on her promises.

"I am proud of this cabinet. I believe Albertans will be proud of this cabinet. We will deliver change," she said.

Redford said her cabinet is full of parents of young children, grandparents and people from all walks of life.

"We are the people who are living in this province and I think those are the people who Albertans want," she said.

Horner said he was thrilled at the appointment and is eager to dive into the role.

"I am very, very honoured with the trust that the premier has put in me and I look forward to fulfilling the role," he said.

Horner, who also ran for the PC leadership, said he and the premier share an approach to budgeting that focuses not just on dollars and cents, but on achieving policy outcomes.

"I feel pretty confident that we are going to be in sync and I think she does as well or she wouldn't have put me there," he said.

Several cabinet ministers are holdovers from the regime of former premier Ed Stelmach, but they find themselves in new positions. Dave Hancock, the former minister of education is now minister of human services, an amalgamation of the former departments of children's services, employment and Alberta supports.

Ron Liepert moves from energy to become minister of finance, Thomas Lukaszuk moves to education, Ted Morton to energy, Ray Danyluk to transportation, Jack Hayden to tourism and Heather Klimchuk moves to culture and community services. Jonathan Denis becomes solicitor general and Frank Oberle becomes minister of sustainable resource development.

The new faces include former leadership contender Doug Griffiths who takes over at municipal affairs. Also new is Diana McQueen as the minister of the environment and water. Evan Berger's first cabinet title is minister of agriculture. Manmeet Bhullar is the new minister for Service Alberta and Fred Horne the new health minister.

Cal Dallas is also a cabinet rookie with his appointment as minister of international, intergovernmental and aboriginal relations and George Vanderburg will be the minister for seniors.

Greg Weadick retains his post as minister of advanced education and Verlyn Olson remains the minister of justice. They were the only two ministers to keep the posts they had.

New structure

In addition to new faces, Redford's first cabinet introduces some changes to how government is organized. In addition to Hancock's new department, immigration is no longer tied to the employment ministry and the department of aboriginal relations is no longer a stand-alone cabinet post.

Redford has also placed a secretariat for regulatory review in her office. She said Wednesday the secretariat will aim to ensure the province is achieving what it sets out to.

"This is to me about doing something that we have always said we needed to do in government and that was to actually take a look at whether or not our regulatory framework is coinciding with the policy outcome we wanted to achieve," she said.

In staffing her cabinet Redford was looking for people wiling to shake things up.

"I looked for people who were bright and energetic and are open to new ways of doing thing and are not complacent with the status quo," she said.

Liepert has said publicly that he disagrees with Redford's calls for a public inquiry on doctor intimidation, but the premier said she wasn't looking for yes men.

"I wasn't looking for people who think exactly the same way that I do. I think a diversity of ideas and lively discussion is a good thing and I think it is what Albertans expect," she said.

Mayor pleased

St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse said he was very happy with the new cabinet. He said Horner's return to the table and Johnson's addition mean the city will be well represented.

"I am thrilled with our representation," he said. "I don't think St. Albert could have done better."

Crouse said both men will be effective advocates for the city, which needs champions for important projects like Ray Gibbon Drive and the proposed pedway into Lois Hole Provincial Park.

He also noted Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, who represents Edmonton-Castledowns, lives in St. Albert and will be another voice at the table.

Same old, same old

The opposition did not welcome Redford's new cabinet. NDP Leader Brian Mason said despite the alleged change in the air, this cabinet represents more of the same.

"The new premier has put a new face on the cabinet, but basically they are going to continue to be the same old 40-year-old Tory party," Mason said.

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith had a different challenge with the new cabinet. She said Redford picked ministers with a history of big spending that will cost Albertans money.

"Premier Redford promised change but I don't think a bloated cabinet of big spenders constitutes the change Albertans are looking for," Smith said.

Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said the cabinet is still far too large and ministries with obvious synergies should be combined. He took particular aim at Liepert who he said is a bad choice.

"This man is a one man wrecking crew," Sherman said. "We call him the billion-dollar man. Everywhere he shows up he wastes a billion dollars and the staff are demoralized."

He said this cabinet won't achieve what Redford has promised to do.

"She wants to fix public healthcare. You ain't going to fix it with Ron Liepert controlling the purse strings and Fred Horne running it."

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