Alberta Premier Notley runs a pretty tight ship when it comes to her cabinet.
So, as expected, there wasn’t much shuffling in the cabinet shuffle announced on the weekend and smoothly executed yesterday morning. Changes were minimal. So minimal, indeed, that mainstream media were calling it a “mini-shuffle.”
One new cabinet member is in: Brian Malkinson, MLA for Calgary-Currie. Before running for office Mr. Malkinson worked as a diesel technician in the oil and gas industry and has a reputation as a hard working and personable MLA. He’s one of the very few human beings, apparently, who actually enjoys political door-knocking!
Two are of necessity out, both having already announced they would not be seeking re-election in 2019 – Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne, MLA for Calgary-Acadia, and Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean, MLA for Calgary-Varsity, both of whom had babies while in office and plan to devote more time to their young families.
So, in this, Premier Notley ran true to form – keeping her cabinet relatively small for Canada’s fourth most populous province at 20 members and sticking with ministers in whom she had previously shown confidence. She described her strategy to reporters at the morning swearing-in ceremony at Edmonton’s Government House as, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Mr. Malkinson replaces Ms. McLean as minister for Service Alberta – traditionally seen as the most junior ministry in the Alberta cabinet, the portfolio responsible for registrations, incorporations and licenses (liquor, driving, marriage, you pretty well name it).
Danielle Larivee, a Registered Nurse who is seen as one of the cabinet’s most effective members, was sworn in to cover the other part of Ms. McLean’s cabinet responsibilities, the Ministry of Status of Women. That, too, in previous Conservative governments was seen as a not particularly important portfolio, if it existed at all – but in Ms. Notley’s government it is very important indeed.
Ms. Larivee, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, retains her post as minister of children’s services, a ministry that needed a steady hand after a long period of crisis under previous governments that continued to generate bad press for a spell under NDP leadership. Before that, she was minister of municipal affairs, where she dealt effectively with the aftermath of the Fort McMurray Fire in 2016.
The gender balance in Premier Notley’s cabinet is now 11 men and nine women, including the premier and deputy premier. Some media tried to spin the departure of two women from cabinet as bad optics – which is pretty strange given the circumstances and the makeup of the cabinet which, as Ms. Notley noted to reporters yesterday, “our record as it stands both in terms of our cabinet make-up as well as our record standing up for women in Alberta and across this province is a record that frankly is unmatched by any other government in Canada.”