A former Alberta cabinet minister says she has made peace with her place in provincial history as the first legislature member to have a baby while in office.
“(It’s) a bit odd,” McLean said in an interview Thursday, one day after she gave her formal notice that she was leaving her Calgary Varsity seat.
“I always wanted to do politics at some point in my life, since I was a kid, and never thought the thing I would be remembered for was having a child.
“It’s a bit of a mixed feeling because it’s not something that required my brain to accomplish, and yet it is my most memorable accomplishment.”
McLean, a first−term member, had already said last year that she wasn’t running in the upcoming spring election.
Premier Rachel Notley announced on social media late Wednesday that McLean had resigned.
McLean was on personal leave during the fall sitting of the legislature. She said the decision to leave now is tied to her considering an offer to return to family law.
“I want to make sure I have a clean slate going into my next opportunities,” she said.
McLean served in Notley’s cabinet as the minister of Service Alberta with responsibility for the status of women.
Notley, in a social media post, lauded McLean’s efforts.
“She led work on our government’s commitment to end sexual violence and organized a campaign to encourage women to run for municipal office,” said Notley.
McLean made headlines in February 2016 when she gave birth to son Patrick. It forced the legislature to revise rules to accommodate new working mothers.
The rules had to be changed to allow Patrick to join his mom on the front bench of the chamber. McLean’s husband, Shane, had to be nearby to help, but couldn’t get a legislature security pass because he was not a government member. Those rules have also been changed.
“The changes that came about as a result in the legislature … make having my very private life become very public worth it,” said McLean. “The stories that I’ve heard from women has really made it worth it.”
She said a constituent who was joining a university committee pushed — and was allowed — to have her two young ones nearby.
“She told me that she only asked because, she said, ’If Stephanie can do it, I can, too.’”
McLean joined cabinet in February 2016 but was shuffled out last June after she announced she would not be running in the next election.
As the minister for the status of women, McLean announced funding to help sexual assault survivors get better crisis help and legal advice. She also led a campaign to encourage more women to run for municipal politics and set up programs to pair young women with female mentors.
In the Service Alberta portfolio, she brought in changes to clamp down on payday loan charges and revamped the Alberta driver’s licence.
She said she recently heard from a childhood friend who thanked her for the new payday loan rules, which he said allowed him to get a repayment plan he could afford.
“I keep being rewarded in hearing those stories that show I changed someone’s life in a real, meaningful way. That’s been huge.”