Alberta Premier Alison Redford trims cabinet

Alberta Premier Alison Redford announced Monday that she is trimming the size of her cabinet, meaning Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk will take on additional responsibilities while Richard Starke replaces the minister of tourism.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford watches as Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk is sworn in back in May 2012. It was announced Monday that Lukaszuk will also be taking on the role of minister of enterprise and advanced education. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Alberta Premier Alison Redford announced Monday that she is trimming the size of her cabinet — by one.

"Recognizing the impact of falling resource revenues on our bottom line, my government will lead by example with a smaller, more focused cabinet," said Redford in a release.

In addition to his deputy premier role, Thomas Lukaszuk is replacing Stephen Khan as the minister of enterprise and advanced education with a focus on diversifying the economy.

Tory backbencher Richard Starke has been appointed as the minister of tourism, replacing Christine Cusanelli.

"Mr. Lukaszuk’s and Dr. Starke’s leadership and experience will be invaluable in the tough decisions our government will make as we work through the effects of the bitumen bubble," said Redford.

"I also want to thank Stephen Khan and Christine Cusanelli for their advice and significant efforts in advancing our government’s growth agenda over the past year."

Khan, the MLA for St. Albert, and Cusanelli, MLA for Calgary-Currie, were appointed to Redford's cabinet last spring shortly after they were first elected to the legislative assembly.

Cusanelli became the focus of controversy in December after she had to repay $10,610 in improperly charged expense claims which included the cost of flying her mother and daughter to join her at the Olympics in London last summer.

Cusanelli said that she didn't fully understand the expense process and paid all the money back.

Albertans shouldn't read too much into the shuffle, Lukaszuk said.

"[The premier] has picked the team that she thinks will deliver on what Albertans expect of us to deliver," he said.

But Wildrose MLA Shayne Saskiw said the cabinet changes are a bad sign for Redford.

"You only turf or punt cabinet ministers like this if there are serious problems within the caucus. And it demonstrates that the leader unfortunately had some poor decision-making processes when she chose these cabinet ministers in the first place," he said.