Friday, June 22, 2007

Stelmach Responds to the Urban Pressure and Expands Cabinet

Alberta Premier Stelmach has just announced some additions to Cabinet with three changes for Calgary.

Ron Stevens is Deputy Premier in addition to his role as Minister of Justice and Attorney General. This is a very wise move at so many levels by Premier and not just to appease Calgary. Stevens is one of the most respected and capable Ministers in the fold.

Cindy Ady (Calgary Shaw) is Associate Minister of Tourism Promotion (with responsibility for Alberta's participation in activities pertaining to the 2010 Olympics in British Columbia). Another capable person but a strange mandate I must say. But the backgrounder on the News Release adds “Sport” in terms of “participation in communities, schools and workplaces” …maybe she is the anti-obesity Associate Minister too? We could use an emphasis on this problem (including me). Another Cabinet Vote for Calgary is the politics at play here.

Yvonne Fritz (Calgary Cross) is back but working as Associate Minister of Affordable Housing and Urban Development. She had her challenges in the Seniors and Community Services portfolio before, especially in getting crown land released for Fort McMurray housing…lots of false starts mostly because the corporate history of the government had been let go during the Debt and Deficit civil service purging in the mid 90’s. Ray Danyluk needs the help because of volume of work and the complexity of issues…an Associate Minister should help carry some of the work load. Politics is more voice for Calgary.

Finally we have Gene Zwozdesky, MLA for Edmonton-Mill Creek, as Associate Minister for Capital Planning. This is a very bright light move. Edmonton now has 2 Ministers to Calgary’s 5 but the real story is the need for more urban voices has been heard by the Premier. The importance of infrastructure planning in managing growth is a key focus of the Stelmach government. There has been serious political damage caused by years of neglect in this area. Gene is on top of the issues and at the top of his game. It is good to see this important function given the Cabinet status it needs.

I am pleased to see the quick response to the obvious need for more urban representation in Cabinet and a capable newcomer like Cindy Ady getting a chance.