Later today at a public celebration on the legislature grounds, Alberta’s new NDP government will be sworn in. With a large number of inexperienced MLAs elected, many are suggesting that the NDP doesn’t have a strong group for cabinet. The announcement earlier this week that the cabinet would only have 12 people, including Notley, served as proof to these people that the caucus was weak.
I’ve been spending some time since May 5th looking at the makeup of the caucus and I didn’t find that to be the case at all. There may be a few holes, like in energy, but there are plenty of qualified people with a wide range and depth of valuable experience. In fact, I earlier thought there would be about 17 cabinet ministers and I still had many good people sitting away from the table.
With the 12-person announcement this week, I have revised my estimates and come up with a new prediction. With only 12 people and only four incumbents (all from Edmonton) the trick to cabinet making will be geographic diversity. I suggest that the cabinet making starts outside the two metro areas, then goes to Calgary and finally ends in Edmonton. Here are my picks:
Outside the Metros:
- Shannon Phillips, Lethbridge West (Int’l and Intergov Relations)
- Colin Piquette, Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater (Environment, Agriculture)
- Marg McCuaig-Boyd, Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley (Advanced Ed, Jobs and Labour)
- Bob Wanner, Medicine Hat (Municipal Affairs)
- Joe Ceci, Calgary-Fort (Human Services)
- Kathleen Ganley, Calgary-Buffalo (Justice)
- Karen McPherson, Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill (Service Alberta, Culture and Tourism)
- Rachel Notley, Edmonton-Strathcona (Premier, Energy)
- Brian Mason, Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood (Finance)
- David Eggen, Edmonton-Calder (Health, Seniors)
- Deron Bilous, Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview (Infrastructure, Transportation)
- Sarah Hoffman, Edmonton-Glenora (Education, Women)
The interesting thing to me about this experience is that after filling in these qualified cabinet candidates, you end up with a quite a strong list of backbenchers who just miss the cut, like: Bob Turner, Lori Sigurdson, Marie Renaud, Danielle, Larivee, Richard Feehan, Marlin Schmidt, Stephanie McLean, Ricardo Miranda, Irfan Sabir and David Shepherd.