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Monday, December 18, 2006

ministerial musings of the third kind.

Over the weekend, I had some thoughts on Alberta PC Premier Ed Stelmach's new Cabinet... I was originally going to write them down in Haiku, but I decided this was easier...

ALBERTA PC CABINET 2006 - Composition...

SEX: It's a great time to be a white male Alberta Tory MLA between the ages of 40 and 60. You scored big! There are only 2 women and no visible minorities in Stelmach's first Cabinet.

GEOGRAPHY: Rural Alberta scored big over Alberta's two biggest cities in this cabinet (see map).

Northern Alberta specifically scored big with eight MLA's making it to the Cabinet table: Hector Goudreau (Dunvegan-Central Peace), Mel Knight (Grande Prairie-Smoky), Guy Boutilier (Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo), Ray Danyluk (Lac La Biche-St. Paul), Lloyd Snelgrove (Vermilion-Lloydminster), Doug Horner (Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert), Fred Lindsay (Stony Plain), and Iris Evans (Sherwood Park). And of course, Tory Premier Ed Stelmach (Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville).

Central/Southern Alberta has six Cabinet Ministers rolling the die at the Cabinet table. Ted Morton (Foothills-Rockyview), Janis Tarchuk (Banff-Cochrane), George Groenveld (Highwood), Lyle Oberg (Strathmore-Brooks), and Rob Renner (Medicine Hat). Lethbridge is left out of the cabinet room this time around as three long-time Lethbridge and area Tory MLA's Clint Dunford (Lethrbridge West), Barry McFarland (Little Bow), and David Coutts (Livingstone-Macleod) have been sent to the backbenches. The City of Red Deer's representatives Victor Doerksen (Red Deer South) and Mary Anne Jablonski(Red Deer North) are also not missing from the Cabinet table. This is the first time Red Deer has not been home to a Cabinet Minister in over 15 years.

Edmonton now has only one Cabinet Minister - Dave Hancock (Edmonton Whitemud) - and Calgary has only thee - Ron Stevens (Calgary Glenmore), Ron Liepert (Calgary West), and Greg Melchin (Calgary North West). The only other "urban" MLA's being Iris Evans (Sherwood Park) and Rob Renner (Medicine Hat). This leaves "urban Alberta" with 6 representatives at the Cabinet table.

PORTFOLIO: New powerful Cabinet portfolios include a newly created President of the Treasury Board - manned by the untested new Cabinet Minister Lloyd Snelgrove, Advanced Education and Technology - manned by former Ag Minister Doug Horner, Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry - manned by Iris Evans, and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing - manned by Ray Danyluk. Gone are the Ministries of Gaming (phew~!), Innovation & Science, and RAGE to name a few. Downsized is the Ministries of Finance held by former PC leadership candidate Lyle Oberg.

THE BOOT: Ministers from Ralph Klein's last dynastic Ministry who have been put out to pasture include Shirley McClellan (Drumheller-Stettler), Ty Lund (Rocky Mountain House), Gary Mar (Calgary Mackay), Harvey Cenaiko (Calgary Buffalo), Heather Forsyth (Calgary Fish Creek), Denis Herard (Calgary Egmont), Barry McFarland (Little Bow), Clint Dunford (Lethbridge West), Pearl Calahasen (Lesser Slave Lake), Gordon Graydon (Grande Prairie-Wapiti), Mike Cardinal (Athabasca-Redwater), and Denis Ducharme (Bonnyville-Cold Lake).

POST-LEADERSHIP: It should be interesting to see if Premier Ed Stelmach is able to build this caucus in to a functional team. With nearly 40 of the 62 PC MLA's supporting Calgarian Jim Dinning in the Alberta PC Leadership race, it should be interesting to see how they react to leader Ed Stelmach in the coming months. Considering that all but one Calgary PC MLA supported Jim Dinning (Hung Pham (Calgary Montrose) supported Ted Morton)I expect to see a large number of PC MLA's retire before the next election.

TO BE SEEN: With Assembly Speaker Ken Kowalski (Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock) openly endorsing Jim Dinning before the second ballot of the Alberta PC leadership race, will Kowalski be able to muster support to be re-elected Speaker when Premier Stelmach reconvenes the Legislature in Spring 2007? Or will Premier Ed Stelmach attempt to purge the Speaker's Office and make way for a new Speaker?

How will the lack of Calgary Minsterial representation effect the political psyche of Calgarians? Edmontonians are used to it, but until Ralph Klein's selection as PC leader and then Premier in 1992, Calgarians were waining in their political support for the Alberta Progressive Conservatives (as shown in 1989 when Calgarians elected 3 Liberal and 2 NDP MLA's in their midst). Will the northern Alberta based Stelmach Conservatives see a backlash for their downsizing of the Calgary Cabinet contingent? A strong indicator will be a potential by-election in Ralph Klein's riding of Calgary Elbow following his resignation on January 15, 2007. The Alberta Liberals had a strong showing in Calgary Elbow in 2004 despite Klein's Premiership. The results will no doubt be interesting...


Anonymous said...

good analysis, dave.

Anonymous said...

Excellent points all, and very succinct. I would add however that I'm not so worried about the male/female, urban/rural, or north/south as I am about the relative lack of experience of the new cabinet. Especially as Stelmach has appeared a little "bumbly" in interviews so far.

The only thing worse than the last lame duck sitting would be one that breaks things by playing with them.

The lack of experience could go either way (helpful or hindrance) especially as I think you're right dave: there'll be some big retirements leading up to the next election.

Anonymous said...

Much has been made (by some people) of the lack of visible minorities in cabinet this go-round. But I think people need to consider who was available for selection (base requirement: PC MLA), and of those, who was truly cabinet material.

Some brief thoughts:
Hung Pham - Ok, that's an easy one. Nope. Calgary NE voting issues - say no more.

Pearl Calahasen - In the last few weeks of the leadership contest Auditor General brought up issues relating to Metis grants and subsequent contributions to a campaign. So nope, at least for now, while this is cleared up.

Mike Cardinal - What has he done in the past decade that would argue to keep him in cabinet, on merit? I think it would be insulting to keep him in as the "token Indian" (although at present Mike may disagree). He is like Ty Lund - past his "best-before" date, and is probably not going to run again anyway.

Gary Mar - Smart, long term minister. But had some poor exercises in judgement over the past few years as detailed in the press relating to untendered verbal contracts, Kelly Charlebois getting paid thousands for one speech, etc. Plus, in a downsized cabinet, it ends up being a numbers game and he loses out to Stevens (lawyer, experience), Melchin (experience, no issues), and Liepert (being the necessary olive branch to the Dinning-ites).

Wayne Cao - Possible cabinet choice here. He is smart, but loses out for same reason as Mar - already three Calgary ministers. Wayne is on at least one of the new policy committees, if I recall.

I find it a little humourous that over a week ago, people were applauding a slimmed-down cabinet, but as of Friday, some (Calgary's media in particular) are bemoaning the loss of cabinet ministers. I heard there were seven in last cabinet. Well, there was a 25% reduction in the size of cabinet. Assuming blind pro-ration, that would reduce to 5 ministers. Calgary got three on the surface, but really four because Ted Morton actually lives in Calgary (right near the university I believe) and his constituency is right on Calgary's doorstep.

Anonymous said...


With all due respect, we've all seen the math by now - we know more people live in an urban setting than in a rural one. I would go farther to say that the numbers are probably greater now in 2006 than they were in 2001. But there is no requirement for "rep-by-pop" when it comes to selecting cabinet. I am sure that 100 yeas ago when the first cabinet was selected, there was probably an under-representation of rural people in cabinet using your method. But I don't recall there being a revolt then, and I don't think one will happen now.

Anonymous said...

One more thing...

Given urban sprawl, I would characterize a good chunk of so-called rural settings to be practically suburbs of various urban centres.

Anonymous said...

women couldn't vote 100 years ago either.

Anonymous said...

in 1905, Alberta only had 2 "urban" ridings - 1 in Edmonton and 1 in Calgary.

Unless there were only 2 cabinet Ministers, rural Alberta was very represented.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the Calgary caucus takes the Speaker's office for themself. 20 MLA's + the 21 Opposition MLA's (who would love to see Kowalski gone) + 3-4 disgruntled rural MLA's = Kowalski is toast.

Anonymous said...

Cabinet may not be rep-by-pop but the MLAs are:

41 Calgary & Edmonton MLAs = 4 ministers
42 MLAs elsewhere = 15 ministers

That math is a little "fuzzy" if you ask me.

But as I said above I don't think it will be that be a deal. The fact there are so many rookies is what might be more worrisome in the long run.

Anonymous said...

I had a conversation with Wayne Cao and Cindy Ady the other day (before the announcement) and they said they weren't too worried because they expected the Calgary caucus to play a larger role. At least a larger one than they did while the premier was from their city.

Anonymous said...

Doug Horner and Fred Lindsay represent very rurban ridings. Mixed rural and urban. many acrage dwellers living just outside edmonton in parkland and sturgeon counties. They are rural ridings with a large number of urban voters.

It's rural, but with a twist.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:46PM,
That's exactly the point I was trying to make earlier. Iris Evans should be included in your list as well. Ask anyone from Sherwood Park if they think they are "rural" and they will look at you as if you just grew a second head ;-). Practically everyone that lives there works in Edmonton; they just live in Sherwood Park because it is a more upscale community. On that note, Foothills-Rockyview (Morton) and Highwood (Groeneveld) have an interesting mix of farmer-folk and landed gentry - not a homogenous group.

I think the balance works reasonably well. You have nine veterans and nine rookies (as you defined). Some of the rookies are just that (Liepert and Morton are first-time ministers AND working on their first term as an MLA). But Danyluk, Oulette, and Snelgrove have done a lot of committee work, and I believe all three have prior municipal experience. I think if you look at the entire cabinet, the law of averages will play out. Some will provie to be in over their head (and if so, eventually replaced/reallocated) and some will prove the pundits wrong (just like Eddie).

Anonymous said...

I just finished putting together a package detailing what we know about the new cabinet. It's remarkable how many ministers are farmers. And how few have any post-secondary education.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous 2:56:44 PM said...
I just finished putting together a package detailing what we know about the new cabinet. It's remarkable how many ministers are farmers. And how few have any post-secondary education."

Point being? In my household, we have two Bachelor's degrees, a Master's and one Ph.D. So we have in our group of friends and associates a number of the same. Trust me when I say that education <> intellect and/or ability. If that were true, universities would be self-sustaining, profitable enterprises, because all of the "smart people" are there.

And why pick on farmers? If they were all businesspeople, no one would think twice, even if all they ran was a popsicle stand.

Anonymous said...

I read with interest the comments exchange on this posting and find it a bit unsettling. I posted my comments on my own site as a post because they were too long for a comment.

Again Dave does a great insight piece here...most of which I agree with.

My bets are on Gene Zwozedsky for Speaker in the new session. It is a secret ballot and all MLAs get to play.

Anonymous said...

I think a couple of you are putting the cart ahead of the horse on a new speaker. If I recall speakers are elected at the start of every legislative term (i.e. following an election) not at the start of every legislative session.

Sam said...

Disable anonymous posting!

Anonymous said...

A blue wave will come over you as your swept into another Tory majority government!

Alex Dakota

Red State Canucks

Anonymous said...

Anonymous posting forever!!!

Anonymous said...

For those looking for more material, in addition to Daveberta's piece and Ken Chapman's, the Enlightened Savage (a relatively new blogger, but a good one IMHO) has an interesting strategic piece on the cabinet selection:

I think it refutes some of the simple "Calgary-and-Edmonton-are-under-represented-because-Ed-rewarded-his-friends" logic.

And for those who think hard times are only the city, maybe this piece in the National Post will at least merit some consideration: