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Alberta cabinet ministers sworn in Monday

Premier Danielle Smith announced her picks for cabinet Friday, a much larger inner circle than recent governments.

By News Staff and The Canadian Press

Alberta’s new cabinet ministers were sworn in on Monday.

The ceremony took place at 11 a.m. at Government House in Edmonton.

She announced who would head the top tier of her government on Friday — a 27-member cabinet supported by 11 parliamentary secretaries.

Smith became Alberta’s 19th premier after defeating six rivals earlier this month in the leadership race to replace Jason Kenney as United Conservative Party (UCP) leader. All but one of the six have a place at Smith’s cabinet table.

The party held its annual general meeting over the weekend at the River Cree Resort and Casino on Edmonton’s western outskirts, where Smith said her government has instituted a process where every legislature member — minister or not — is “going to be meaningfully involved in creating and developing government policy.”

“Every MLA must be empowered to effectively represent the constituents they serve regardless of their title,” Smith said during her address Saturday, adding that was how former Premier Ralph Klein did things.

Smith also told reporters at the event she is seeking legal advice on whether she can pardon those fined for non-criminal violations of health restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following a divisive leadership campaign, Smith said her caucus is now unified and ready to defend government against the Opposition NDP in next spring’s election.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley, who spoke at her party’s provincial convention in Calgary, also held over the weekend, said she expected both her and her party would be the focus of much of the discussion at the UCP gathering.

“They’ve had quite a year. I never thought I’d say this about Jason Kenney but I kind of miss him. Weird right?” Notley said Saturday, without once mentioning Smith by name in her speech.


Among Smith’s cabinet misters are two deputy premiers — Kaycee Madu, who is running a new portfolio titled Skilled Trades and Professions, and Minister of Infrastructure Nathan Neudorf.

Travis Toews, who stepped down as finance minister to run for UCP leader, returns to that role under Smith. Toews is also president of the treasury board.

Smith’s leadership rival and former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean takes on duties in a renamed department titled Jobs, Economy and Northern Development.

Meanwhile, Smith parted ways with Jason Nixon — the key lieutenant to former Premier Kenney.

Smith didn’t answer specifically why Nixon was out but said, “there are a number of cabinet ministers who seem to really be the hand of the former premier on a lot of files that caused our party a lot of problems.”

She added: “If people are out, they’re not out forever.”

Among those who retained their portfolios are Justice Minister Tyler Shandro, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson, Health Minister Jason Copping, and Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides.

Smith supporter Peter Guthrie is the new energy minister, while Todd Loewen, who ran against Smith in the leadership race but often echoed her policy ideas, heads up a new department titled Forestry, Parks and Tourism.

Mike Ellis, another Smith supporter, left his job as associate minister of mental health and addictions to head up a new ministry titled Public Safety.

Devin Dreeshen is back in cabinet after resigning almost a year ago amid controversy over office drinking and accusations of misbehaviour. Dreeshen is the new minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors.

Those not returning as cabinet ministers include Whitney Issik, Ron Orr, Tanya Fir, Ric McIver, Josephine Pon, and Prasad Panda.

Nate Horner, Nate Glubish, Nicholas Milliken, Jason Luan, and Matt Jones remain cabinet ministers, albeit in charge of different portfolios.

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