Stelmach names smaller cabinet

Alberta's new premier has announced his first cabinet, a mix of experienced ministers and those who will join the inner circle of government for the first time.

Alberta's new premier has announced his first cabinet, a mix of experienced ministers and those who will join the inner circle of government for the first time.

The swearing-in ceremony took place at Government House on Friday morning, the day after Ed Stelmach officially replaced longtime premier Ralph Klein.

"I know you're all as eager as I am to roll up your sleeves and go to work," Stelmach told his 18 ministers. "We do have a big mandate before us."

Backbencher MLA Ted Morton, who finished third in the recent Tory leadership race, is the new minister of sustainable resource development.

Lloyd Snelgrove, a backbench MLA from Vermilion who backed Stelmach in his leadership bid, becomes president of the Treasury Board in charge of government spending, workers and services for a province that is on track to spend close to $30 billion this fiscal year.

He said his focus will be on much-needed roads and on upgrading existing buildings.

"I can't imagine we need to spend more," Snelgrove said. "We need to target our investment so we can get the best value."

Other first-time ministers include Fred Lindsay as solicitor general,Ron Liepert in educationand Janis Tarchuk, whowill take over the children's services portfolio.

Hancock, Oberg snag important portfolios

Lyle Obergreturns to cabinet, this time asfinance minister. Hehas held several cabinet positions, including family and social services, learning andinfrastructure and transportation.

Edmontonwill berepresented by Dave Hancock,whoreturns to cabinet as minister of health. He has held positions in advanced education,justice and attorney general andintergovernmental and aboriginal affairs.

Both Oberg and Hancock were quick to throw their campaign machines behind Stelmach when they didn't make the first ballot in the leadership race.

Some longtime supporters of Stelmach will also be in cabinet.

Iris Evans moves from health to employment, immigration and industry, Luke Ouellette is the new infrastructure and transportation minister, and Ray Danyluk is minister of municipal affairs and housing.

Stelmach has not named a deputy premier, but he says he may give the title to someone in the future.

Cabinetstacked with rural, northern MLAs

Besides a roster that is half cabinet rookies, Stelmach's cabinet is heavily weighted to rural areas and northern Alberta.

Hancock is the only Edmonton MLA. Representing Calgaryalong with Liepert will beRon Stevens, whoremains in the position ofjustice minister, and Greg Melchin, whomoves from the energy portfolioto seniors and community supports.

Stelmach said no region will be left out because cabinet ministers represent more than their constituencies.

"Ministers are part of executive council and look after all Albertans," he said.

Stelmach announced Wednesday he had merged some responsibilities and trimmed his cabinet to 18 MLAs from 24, following through on a campaign promise.

Politicians who are now out of cabinet include: Gary Mar, Harvey Cenaiko, Shirley McClellan and Gene Zwozdesky.

NDP Leader Brian Mason said Stelmach "has put a high priority on rewarding his friends and punishing his opponents, and that comes at the expense of a properly representative cabinet.

"For Christmas, parts of Alberta are getting PlayStation 3s, but Edmonton and Calgary are just getting socks and underwear."

Political scientist Keith Brownsey labelled it "a strategic error" to effectively ignore minorities, women and the two major cities containing two-thirds of the province's population.

"Cabinets are there to represent and this cabinet does little in that regard," said Brownsey, with Mount Royal College in Calgary.

"Cabinet is supposed to give geographic areas some representation. I think Mr. Stelmach hasn't read the basic textbooks on how to put a cabinet together."

The new cabinet is:

  • Lloyd Snelgrove (Vermilion-Lloydminster): president of the Treasury Board, minister of Service Alberta.
  • Doug Horner (Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert): Advanced education and technology.
  • Iris Evans (Sherwood Park): Employment, immigration and industry.
  • Mel Knight (Grande Prairie-Smoky): Energy.
  • Dave Hancock (Edmonton-Whitemud): Health and wellness, also government house leader.
  • Ray Danyluk (Lac La Biche-St. Paul): Municipal affairs and housing.
  • Ron Liepert (Calgary-West): Education.
  • Janis Tarchuk (Banff-Cochrane): Children's services.
  • Rob Renner (Medicine Hat): Environment, also deputy house leader.
  • George Groeneveld (Highwood): Agriculture and food.
  • Lyle Oberg (Strathmore-Brooks): Finance.
  • Luke Ouellette (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake): Infrastructure and Transportation.
  • Ron Stevens (Calgary-Glenmore): Justice and attorney general, also deputy house leader.
  • Greg Melchin (Calgary-North West): Seniors and community supports.
  • Guy Boutilier (Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo): International, intergovernmental and aboriginal relations.
  • Ted Morton (Foothills-Rocky View): Sustainable resource development.
  • Fred Lindsay (Stony Plain): Solicitor general, also minister of public security.
  • Hector Goudreau (Dunvegan-Central Peace): Tourism, parks, recreation and culture.

With files from Canadian Press