During the 2019 Alberta provincial election it was critical for Jason Kenney that he win the most seats in Calgary. Prognosticators said it was a three pronged election… win two out of Edmonton, Calgary and everywhere else and that party would win. Many predicted the NDP would be strong in Edmonton and the UCP everywhere else, with Calgary being the wildcard.
Not much of a wild card as the right wing UCP trumped and crushed the NDP’s orange cards.
However, when the new cabinet was introduced in a rather understated way, the south found themselves on the outside looking in on cabinet.
The good news for southern Alberta whose residence don’t have smug Naheed Nenshi as their mayor is that least there won’t be any incessant whining coming from Calgary that there is under representation at the cabinet table with many important portfolios filled by Calgary MLAs.
Some may complain that for years, Southeast Alberta was “the forgotten corner” of the province. Now with the geographical lopsidedness in cabinet, now it is the forgotten region.
Only Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter was named as an ASSOCIATE Minister of Red Tape Reduction.
Red tape reduction. This is an actual brand new portfolio to go along with all the regular portfolios which will go into all of the other departments and have people work closely with all the other departments where there are meetings to talk about why there is so much duplicating of paperwork and meetings about issues which overlap other departments… and so on.
Besides Hunter there is no one other than Leela Aheer (Chestermere-Rocky View) the newly named Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism ad Status of Women portfolio who is from Southern Alberta.
Many will cry foul about the lack of representation but like him personally or not, Kenney is diligent, has a definite plan and has done things his own way. He has a lot of experience in his federal time and it appeared to wanted to go with people he knew. While it looks like a geographical snub, either because he can’t see past Calgary’s million-person population and its energy sector hub (15 of the 22 new cabinet positions are from Calgary and the region).
As was mentioned by some of the political pundits, these cabinet-bound MLAs were generally Progressive Conservatives first, not Wildrose which Barnes was. Michaela Glasgo, MLA-elect for Brooks-Medicine Hat (Medicine Hat native, assistant for Barnes, 2016 graduate of University of Lethbridge) and Nate Horner, MLA-elect for Drumheller-Stettler (farmer from Pollockville) are too new and will need time to grow into political role.
Some cynics may point to the fact both Barnes and Glasgo made errors in social media which were considered gaffes.
Barnes had made a subtraction error in a tweet discussing the standardized Grade 9 math tests required a pass grade of 42 per cent.
“42% has become acceptable as a passing great (sic). Let that sink in… That means it has become acceptable for children to not know 68% of the material they are taught in school,” he said in late March tweet.
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It is disappointing and aggravating that seemingly the south lost out and Calgary dominated, but make no mistake, Kenney had a plan going into the election and only needed verification of who was available following April 16.
Those backbenches will be well-represented by the south. Those “emptyhanded” MLAs’ times will come.
Whether Kenney looks and treats the south for new programs or eyeballs where to make spending cuts with the same attitude and feeling when it did when thinking about cabinet positions …only time will tell.
And only Kenney knows.
Ryan Dahlman is the managing editor of Prairie Post East and Prairie Post West. Email him comments or a letter to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org