Alberta Politics
Stephanie McLean and baby Patrick at the Legislature in 2016 (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Brief late-evening message from premier signals departure of Calgary MLA and former cabinet minister Stephanie McLean

Posted on January 03, 2019, 2:07 am
4 mins

If there’s an Alberta version of what used to be known as a “Kremlinologist,” they’ll be puzzling over yesterday evening’s social media announcement by Premier Rachel Notley about the departure of former Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean.

Premier Notley’s statement on Facebook at about 10 p.m. begged a few questions and suggested a need to read between the lines.

Ms. McLean at Government House after being sworn into Cabinet (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

We have received notice that MLA Stephanie McLean has resigned from her position as an elected member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta,” it began, which seems an odd way to start something like this.

The first question that might spring to an inquiring reader’s mind is, “When?” No details were provided.

Rather than celebrate Ms. McLean’s role in cabinet at much length, the premier’s statement talked about her past legal business first.

Perhaps in the name of economy of words, it passed rather lightly over the historic role Ms. McLean played as the first Alberta MLA to give birth while in office. Her son, Patrick, was born on Feb. 12, 2016. The Notley Government thereafter made an effort to make the Legislature a friendlier place for MLAs with young children.

Ms. McLean left cabinet on June 18. Her interest in the government and governing seems to have waned considerably since then.

In May, she announced she did not plan to seek re-election. She has been on leave from the Legislature throughout the Fall 2018 Session. She has not been much seen in her Calgary-Varsity electoral district in recent months, and is thought to have been living for the past couple of months in Edmonton where her husband works.

While it’s not clear why Ms. McLean chose to quit before the election, creating potentially less than ideal optics for the government, the timing suggests there was a political calculation to ensure her resignation was late enough not to require a by-election before the general election expected in the spring.

Ms. Notley’s statement concluded by noting that Ms. McLean led the government’s “commitment to end sexual violence and organized a campaign to encourage women to run for municipal office.” It wished her and her family well in their future endeavours.

Don’t expect to hear much more about this from the government, and probably not that much from the Opposition either. Everyone will likely be moving on quickly.

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story had Ms. McLean’s son as being both four months old and two years and four months old. The latter age is the right one, and the story has been edited to reflect the facts. Like the Conservatives on the topic of the NDP role in the international price of oil, I blame Rachel Notley for this … in this case because she announced the former minister’s departure so late. Aged bloggers, like young toddlers, need an early bedtime to be at their best. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it. DJC

7 Comments to: Brief late-evening message from premier signals departure of Calgary MLA and former cabinet minister Stephanie McLean

  1. Mike

    January 3rd, 2019

    David:

    “While it’s not clear why Ms. McLean chose to quit before the election, creating potentially less than ideal optics for the government, the timing suggests there was a political calculation to ensure her resignation was late enough not to require a by-election before the general election expected in the spring.”

    As cousin Eddie would say, “BINGO!”

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      January 3rd, 2019

      As I recall, Mike, your cousin Eddie is a pretty sharp guy. DJC

      Reply
        • David Climenhaga

          January 4th, 2019

          The other one’s probably not your cousin, anyway. Sorry about that, Mike. I can barely keep my own extended family straight. Should have known better than make assumptions about someone else’s. DJC

          Reply
  2. Sassy

    January 4th, 2019

    First, a correction – “Ms. McLean resigned from cabinet four months after Patrick’s birth” (Feb. 12, 2016). In fact, following her notice to leave politics after the 2019 election, McLean resigned as Minister of Service Alberta and Minister of Status of Women on June 18, 2018.

    When NDPer Robyn Luff became an Independent, she claimed other MLAs were also being bullied. With both politicians newly elected in 2015 and residing in Calgary, chances are they were friends. It’s not unreasonable to think McLean was one of those bullied MLAs Luff was speaking about. Perhaps she was off on stress leave as a result, and, since nothing changed as a result of Luff’s protest, McLean decided to leave early. If I’m right, it’s a sad situation.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      January 4th, 2019

      I don’t believe the speculation in your second paragraph, and I allowed this comment only with some reluctance. I did so to punish myself for the spectacular blooper Sassy rightly points out in Paragraph 1 of his/her/their comment. This is what happens when you respond hurriedly to a late-night announcement when it’s really long past the appropriate time to pack it in. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. It’s been quietly corrected. DJC

      Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      January 6th, 2019

      Given David’s sentiment about Sassy’s speculation, I don’t know if he is interested in entertaining any responses to it, but here goes.

      I think Robyn Luff’s ‘bullying’ experience came as a result of her not accepting the realities of party discipline that is expected of elected representatives (both MLAs and MPs). For what its worth, I agree with Ms. Luff’s sentiments about MLAs being able to properly represent their constituents. I do wish discipline wasn’t so firm, and I think everyone feels the same way, as evidenced by the way Jason Kenney pushed his Grassroots Guarantee. Unfortunately the way to solve the problem is to elect independent representatives, and that never seems to happen.

      Back in 2015 I don’t think Stephanie McLean went into her new role as an MLA with the same naivete as Ms. Luff. If so, she wouldn’t have experienced any ‘bullying’.

      Reply

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