Four women inducted into Stelmach’s inner-circle

An overhaul of Premier Ed Stelmach’s cabinet has given Calgary more seats within his inner circle than Edmonton, leaving the capital city with a handful of junior ministries.

But the premier’s office downplayed any perceived slight yesterday, saying the surrounding region should be included along with Edmonton’s three cabinet positions, adding three high-profile posts nearby.


In Edmonton, Stelmach’s 23-member cabinet — up from 18 before this month’s election —includes Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gene Zwozdesky and newcomer Heather Klimchuck, who will run Service Alberta.

But Dave Hancock was transferred from the health ministry to run education, seen as a demotion by some government insiders. He downplayed any hard feelings, however, saying the health portfolio was only "hard to let go" because he had a list of initiatives that he didn’t have time to address.

"We just barely got started, but that’s the nature of this," he told Metro yesterday. "You go where you’re asked to go."

Within the capital region, Sherwood Park’s Iris Evans becomes the new finance minister while Spruce Grove’s Doug Horner stays in advanced education.

Calgary receives six positions, including Health Minister Ron Liepert and Ron Stevens returning as deputy premier while taking on intergovernmental relations. Four female MLAs are also appointed from Calgary.

Stelmach spokesman Paul Stanway said comparing Calgary’s six seats to Edmonton’s three is unfair since Edmonton is part of a regional model.

"It’s like trying to compare apples and oranges," he said. "The two cities are very different."

Edmonton’s Zwozdesky agreed: "We are not an island unto ourselves and we must bear that in mind," he said.

New Democrat Leader Brian Mason argued that the Tory cabinet has become bloated with too many controversial ministers staying on, including Energy Minister Mel Knight.

Knight was dogged by a spying scandal that rocked his ministry last year and he became a target for debate over controversial hikes in oil royalties.

diverse cabinet

  • As a newcomer to the Stelmach government, Lindsay Blackett was convinced he’d spend his first term in office learning the political ropes, not be making history. But much to his surprise, he was appointed to cabinet yesterday as minister of Culture and Community Spirit, becoming Alberta’s first black cabinet minister. The 47-year-old Calgarian says the Tories encouraged women and minorities to run in this year’s election, resulting in a cabinet that better reflects the province’s diversity. "Culture is one of those quality of life issues or areas that are important to a lot of Albertans," he says. "It’s one of those things that attracts people to Alberta and keep them here."

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