St. Albert native and former NDP candidate Michelle Mungall appointed as energy minister of British Columbia

Posted on July 18, 2017, 11:52 pm
5 mins

PHOTOS: St. Albert-born Michelle Mungall was appointed yesterday as British Columbia’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. (Photo: Michelle Mungall candidate website.) Below: B.C.’s NDP premier, John Horgan, who appointed her.

ST. ALBERT, Alberta

You could argue that it’s too bad for Alberta the good people of St. Albert didn’t have the good sense to elect Michelle Mungall back in the 2001 provincial election.

But then, that turned out to be good news for the people of British Columbia.

The St. Albert native and Paul Kane High School graduate ran for the NDP that year here in the bedroom suburb northwest of Edmonton against Liberal stalwart Len Bracko, a former MLA and later a respected city councillor, and Progressive Conservative Mary O’Neill, who was the winner that year.

In her last year as a student at the University of Alberta at the time, Ms. Mungall was the kind of young person members of established parties often mock and dismiss as “placeholders,” and therefore not serious.

In fact, I’m certain I recall just that sort of thing being said about Ms. Mungall at the time. She got about 6 per cent of the vote, though, which was considered a respectable turnout for the NDP in those days.

After university, Ms. Mungall moved to Nelson, B.C., where in November 2002 she ran for city council. She didn’t expect to win there either, her Wikipedia biography says … but she did. She was the youngest city councillor in the Kootenay city’s history and the youngest female city councillor in Canada at the time.

Instead of running again at the end of her first term, she travelled to Africa, where she worked for the Young Women’s Christian Association in Zambia.

She returned to Nelson in 2007 and ran as the B.C. NDP’s candidate for the provincial Legislature two years after that. The people of the Nelson-Creston riding showed their confidence in her by sending her to Victoria as their MLA. She was the first woman ever elected in the riding. She was 31 years old.

Ms. Mungall was re-elected in 2013 and again in the May 9 general election this year, the one that resulted in a minority Legislature and, eventually, an NDP government led by Premier John Horgan, who was sworn in with his cabinet today. This time she had an absolute majority of votes in the riding, an unusual gesture of confidence in our Parliamentary system, especially in B.C.

Yesterday, Premier Horgan named Ms. Mungall to his cabinet as Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, an important portfolio traditionally awarded in that province as in this one to people of depth with recognized talent.

It will be a challenging job. At the top of Ms. Mungall’s agenda will be implementing the NDP’s promise to make the contentious $9-billion Site C dam, construction of which is already under way, the subject of a review.

She is not quite 40.

Perhaps as energy minister, Ms. Mungall can help Mr. Horgan understand what makes Albertans tick. Then again, maybe that’s asking too much of anyone.

Regardless, I think those of us who live here should be very proud of this former St. Albertan, but we should also think seriously about her success and her contribution to the province next door when people scoff at young candidates for elected office as inexperienced and therefore not up to the job.

There’s a municipal election coming up here in St. Albert on Oct. 16 this year. There are a number of very bright young people running for city council. As Ms. Mungall’s stellar record suggests, we should give them serious consideration. Perhaps they can make a similarly valuable contribution if we’re smart enough to give them the chance.

4 Comments to: St. Albert native and former NDP candidate Michelle Mungall appointed as energy minister of British Columbia

  1. ronmac

    July 19th, 2017

    Wow! And her wikipedia bio says she grew up in a family where her parents “favoured the Progressive Conservative Party.” Double wow! And her involment in the “Young Women’s Christian Association” in Zambia.

    At first glance this may seem strange, given that most of the Christianity these days is often associated with “ring of fire” imagery from the Wildrose side of the aisle. But the NDP has deep roots in Christianity. It’s first leader, Tommy Douglas, was a preacher for crying out loud. I still remember a Tommy Douglas speech where he dreamed of a country that has “socialism for everyone” and not just for the “guys at the top.” (bank bailouts anyone?)

    Wonder how she’ll get along with Notley? Will she be channelling Tommy Douglas? Will Notley be channelling Peter Lougheed?

    Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      July 19th, 2017

      More than just a preacher, Tommy was a Baptist minister! You could tell from his great skills as an orator.

      Reply
  2. Ron

    July 19th, 2017

    Thanks for the great post on my new Energy Minister. You are already #1 in Alberta imho. Now you’ve got the best BC Politics blog (are there any?)

    Here in BC ‘it’s a new morning’. The hated Liberals (just right wing CONs with a better name) have been banished after initiating so many extractive projects that are bad for the environment and the economy and of course bad the people.

    Of the big three, LNG and Site C are related boondoggles that are self inflicted wounds. Ask Australia how the LNG market is going. C Clark hang on here for an extra two months giving out secret permits and trying to get Site C past the point of not return during ‘the construction season’. Good luck Ms. Mungall.

    The KM Twin – to carry dilbit!!! – should not happen. I think the ‘process’ will stop it and Horgan/Weaver/Mungall will be huge allies. If not it may come to massive civil unrest – Like Clay-quot Sound but with massive urban numbers.

    They are inheriting several crises that need immediate attention and many involve killing jobs. To get labour on side – what about a massive abandoned-fossil-fuel sites cleanup program (shame the energy companies into funding it) as transition jobs to a greener economy

    Reply
    • political ranger

      July 20th, 2017

      Despite the “inheriting [of] several crises that need immediate attention” you may be understating the case Ron. It appears the cristy clark gov’t left some real stinkin’ piles as they skulked out of parliament.
      On their final day, literally, the B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines told the Tsilhqot’in FN in an email that permits have been issued for mining company Taseko to conduct exploration for the New Prosperity mine, an open pit gold and copper mine twice rejected at the federal level.
      Whether Ms. Mungall can understand what makes Albertans tick, it’s clear that the cristy clark gov’t knows how the Albaturdan PC’s operate.

      Reply

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