Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cabinet Calls

Nation, Premier Alison Redford told her caucus late last week that the new cabinet would be notified on Tuesday of this week, the day before being sworn in. Her instruction to all was to "Not worry about it, and enjoy your weekend with family".

Well, I hope everyone had a good time, because it's about to get all political up in this piece. As we say in the 'hood, yo.

I've spoken now with several very reliable sources, as well as making my own judgement calls based on geography, history, performance, gender balance, etc.  MLA's whose names have come up will be divided into one of three categories: NOT IN CABINET (no chance), ALMOST CERTAINLY IN CABINET (80% or higher), and LIKELY IN CABINET (50 to 80%).

Here we go...

6 members of the current cabinet are heavily rumoured to be in for a bad week:
  • Cindy Ady - Backed Mar, but served ably as Minister of Tourism, Parks & Recreation. A surprising omission, if true.
  • Lindsay Blackett - One of Doug Horner's big supporters, Blackett was the point man for the disastrous Bill 44. If Redford is going to revisit this bill as is rumoured, she can't have its principal sponsor on the front bench.
  • Iris Evans - Iris was so integral to the Mar campaign she actually served as his proxy in a Calgary forum. Not expected to run again, she was rumoured to be strongly considered as Mar's replacement in Washington D.C. had he been successful.
  • Yvonne Fritz - Surprising to see a third woman from the current cabinet being shown the door, if accurate.
  • Ron Liepert - Gary Mar's right-hand man during the leadership, Ron's remarks since the conclusion of the race have shown he's unwilling to accept Redford as his leader. There's a line between disagreement and insurrection.
  • Lloyd Snelgrove - "If she offered me a job, I would say no". 'Nuff said.

Also on the bubble (might be in, but odds are less than 50%) from the current cabinet:
  • Hec Goudreau
  • Mary Anne Jablonski
  • Heather Klimchuk
  • Mel Knight
  • Luke Ouellette
  • Rob Renner
  • Len Webber
  • Gene Zwozdesky

For those of you keeping score at home, that's as many as FOURTEEN current cabinet ministers who would not be sitting around the table on Wednesday afternoon. That's some serious, whole-scale change.

  • Manmeet Bhullar - the current Parliamentary Assistant for Municipal Affairs, Bhullar is a good MLA who might be making the jump to the Big Leagues. His campaign volunteers are among the most visible in the city of Calgary, and as one of the Legislature's youngest MLA's, Manmeet certainly helps make the case that "this isn't your grand-daddy's PC Party".
  • Jonathan Denis - one of the unlucky ministers whose ministry will almost certainly be folded into a new Ministry of Human Services, Denis nonetheless proved his mettle as Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, achieving tremendous results while simultaneously cutting spending in his own ministry, seemingly with a chainsaw. It'd be a terrible oversight to not include him.
  • Doug Griffiths - the former Leadership Candidate won a lot of respect with his campaign for the party's top job. His willingness to talk about the tough issues would make him an asset to Redford in a position where he could implement some of the changes he was talking about on the hustings. His support of Mar (instead of Redford, as expected) on the 2nd ballot might keep him out of a "top 5" spot on the depth chart, but his work ethic, enthusiasm and image as an agent of change should get him a fairly visible portfolio.
  • Thomas Lukaszuk - The current Minister of Employment and Immigration, Lukaszuk has managed to stay out of the limelight while still delivering on the priorities of his boss. Which is exactly what you look for in a safe cabinet pick. He's said to be under consideration for the new Human Services ministry.
  • Greg Weadick - the Minister of Advanced Education & Technology, Weadick is a parent of 2 post-secondary students and a very popular political institution in his hometown of Lethbridge. Weadick supported Horner in the leadership, but did so respectfully. If he moves ministries, he's considered a good fit for Infrastructure as well.

  • Ray Danyluk - Current Minister of Infrastructure backed Horner, but has a good relationship with Redford and has a tremendously active membership base in his home riding.
  • Dave Hancock - The dean of Red Torydom, Hancock is one of only 4 PC MLA's with a Law degree who isn't busy being the Premier right now. He's rumoured to be moving to Justice.
  • Fred Horne - The current Parliamentary Assistant for Health and Wellness will be moving down the hall, to assume the full Minister's job for Health. Hope he's developed some thick skin - his friend Raj is going to be calling on him quite a bit in Question Period.
  • Doug Horner - Will likely be in charge of the Treasury Board, in addition to his job as Deputy Premier.
  • Jeff Johnson - The MLA for Athabasca-Redwater is rumoured to be getting the call as Minister of Sustainable Resource Development.
  • Art Johnston - Defeated for the PC nomination in Calgary-South East, Johnston may try again for the nomination in Hays. Redford's only first-ballot MLA endorsement came from Johnston, who as a former cop would be ideal as a Solicitor General.
  • Diana McQueen - One of the rising stars in the PC Caucus, McQueen has been talked about as a potential Minister of the Environment or Tourism, Parks and Recreation. Even if she doesn't end up with either of those posts, she's almost universally expected to end up SOMEWHERE in cabinet.
  • Ted Morton - The 4th-place finisher in the Leadership contest will need a pretty plum job to come back to the party that has twice rejected him and agree to play nice and run again for the good of party unity. He's expected to be named Minister of Energy.
  • Frank Oberle - Oberle is a natural fit for Sustainable Resource Development, however the scuttlebutt is that the current Solicitor General is in line for a big promotion - perhaps Finance?
  • Verlyn Olson - Currently the Minister of Justice, Olson is expected to stay in cabinet - if Hancock doesn't take the justice portfolio, Olson will stay where he is.

There are some names notable by their absence in any of the above categories... Evan Berger is the current Parliamentary Assistant for SRD, and may or may not get a phone call tomorrow. Robin Campbell will, in all likelihood, remain the Government Whip. Likewise, expect Ken Kowalski to stay on as Speaker. Cal Dallas from Red Deer is another Parliamentary Assistant whose name has come up a few times. Doug Elniski from Edmonton-Calder and Dave Rodney from Calgary-Lougheed both supported Redford on the second ballot, and sources are split on whether or not they get in. One specific rumour had Rodney taking over at Tourism, Parks and Recreation. He's an avid outdoorsman, and (if you haven't heard) climbed Mt. Everest. Two times. You could do a lot worse than a Parks Minister who poses for photo ops on top of mountains that he just climbed up, while the camera crew took a helicopter. Former Solicitor General Fred Lindsay is said to be on the bubble, and likewise with former school board trustee and Danielle Smith nemesis Teresa Woo-Paw. It could go either way for them.

If you take a look at the cabinet that would be constructed using just those people listed as "Likely in Cabinet" and "Almost Certainly in Cabinet", here's what you get as a demographic break-down:

  • 16 members, of which only 2 are women (Redford & McQueen). This will obviously not be the case, for political reasons. Expect cabinet to be 20 or 21 members - it will absolutely have more than 2 women.
  • 4 from Calgary (5 counting Morton), 3 from Edmonton, 8 from the Rest of Alberta. Again, obviously, this can't be the final break-down for reasons of political survival.
  • 6 would be first-time cabinet ministers. 10 would have prior experience.
  • 7 would be under 45 years old.
  • 8 - fully half of them - would be first-term MLA's, elected for the first time in March of 2008.

Is this the final, be-all-and-end-all listing of exactly who is going to be in, who is going to be out, and where they'll end up?

Of course not.

Some of these predictions are going to be flat-out wrong. That's the beauty of prognostication. That's what makes it fun - if Daveberta and I both had the exact same lists, one of us could just take the week off (it'd be me, just for the record).

Let's not overlook the possibility that some of the ministries named above might not even EXIST after Wednesday. Departments get moved from ministry to ministry, new ministries are formed while old ones get swept aside... I've done the same job for 6 years, in the same office, and I've worked for 3 different ministries. So I know full well how it works.

But, as a fun exercise in politics - this has definitely been worth staying up until 3 am.

And if you think *I'VE* had a late night...  ask one of the MLA's on the bubble how well they're going to sleep tonight.

Reminder, MLA's - set that cell phone to ring at highest volume. "Silent Mode" is not your friend this Tuesday.


Danielle said...

You beat me to it! Was gonna post my guesses last night - dang the tryptophan!
I agree with almost everything you've said re smaller cabinet & several of the placements. I would put Morton & Olson in the "maybe category" though, and perhaps even Weadick. And although Danyluk is smart & experienced, he is a lifetime member of the OBC (Old Boy's Club) & I'd be surprised if he places.
Wednesday's gonna be an interesting day!

Patrick said...

Ron Liepert is a friend of Alisons, Although he supported someone else in the campaign, he has said on numerous occasions that he is behind the parties new leader. He was her campaign manager when she ran against Rob Anders. and the two have always had a good relationship.. dont expect him to be sent packing

Anonymous said...

Good post. But what is "disasterous" about Bill 44? The idea parents are reps onsble for their kids upbringing, not the government? This is one of the most progressive pieces of legislation in Alberta history. If anything, it doesn't go far enough.

Anonymous said...

id expect to see webber and ady stick around...fritz has proven she can bounce back as she was demoted originally from the stelmach cabinet, only to prove she and her deceptively sharp ways were needed.
webber is smart, kind, more than loyal and has connections- the kind of guy a redford would want. as for ady- no she will never be the premier, or finance minister, but she has been great at what she has been given and people love her.

Anonymous said...


Enlightened Savage said...

Thanks for the comments, all! You've made some great points regarding some MLA's who have served in cabinet before.

Regarding Jack Hayden, he may be on the losing end of the numbers game, as an older, white male from the Rest Of Alberta. There are already a lot of people on the short list who fit that description.

Regarding Ron Liepert, Ron DID manage Alison's unsuccessful bid for the CPC nomination in Calgary West, but that was 7 years ago. His comments since the leadership, especially about his resistance to an inquiry into the health allegations, make his presence in cabinet a distraction for a new Premier trying to represent a new way of doing things. What if the inquiry found wrong-doing by Liepert while he was Health Minister? Having current cabinet ministers resign - or having to fire them - over past transgressions is NOT the ideal circumstance.

Keep the comments coming - this certainly won't be a boring 24 hours! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you didn't have Kyle Fawcett on your list. Certainly you have to do more than getting the name of your riding changed from Calgary-North Hill to Calgary-Klein and flip-flopping from being a Nenshi-basher on Twitter to backing the Progressive horses in the PC Leadership race to earn a cabinet post.

Don Middleton said...

I will be surprised if Doug Griffiths does not end up in charge of Education. It would be a natural fit. I also agree that Dave Rodney will likely end up with the Parks portfolio; again a good fit. I think that Jonathan Denis has proven himself and should end up with as Minister of Justice. If Morton sticks around, I think that he has to be in cabinet. He is a capable politician and an asset to the party.
I am very curious as to who will be appointed to Finance and Health. Those two portfolios (along with Education) are going to be the media focus over the next few months.
Great post, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's announcements.