Calgary figures to play a major role in the province’s affairs in the coming months.
Premier Danielle Smith named her 25-member cabinet Friday morning, a decrease of two from the previous 27-member cabinet.
Described as a largely status-quo cabinet, this bodes well for Calgary, according to Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt.
“I mean not a lot of new blood, a lot of these people were in (Danielle) Smith’s previous cabinet or even (Jason) Kenney’s cabinet,” Bratt said.
“It’s largely a status quo cabinet, people have changed portfolios, but it’s a large number of the same people and Calgary was really well represented in the past and that continues. You know, Rebecca Schulz in Environment, Mike Ellis is Deputy Premier and Public Safety, Rajan Sawhney in Advanced Education.”
Bratt also highlighted Mickey Amery in Justice and Ric McIver’s return to cabinet in Municipal Affairs as two more major additions to Calgary’s representation in the cabinet. Nine ministers in total are from Calgary.
Calgary mayor, Jyoti Gondek took to Twitter to welcome the new cabinet members, tweeting out “Congratulations to the new provincial cabinet ministers. Looking forward to working with you to deliver on much-needed infrastructure & programming in Calgary.”
Gondek was also sure to welcome McIver back to Municipal Affairs.
McIver, a former Calgary City Council member served three terms from October 2001 to October 2020. He’ll likely play a big role in Calgary moving forward.
His fingerprints have been all over Calgary affairs including serving on the Police Commission and as Chair of the Calgary Housing Company, while also coming to an agreement with the Tsuut’ina Nation to allow for the completion of Calgary’s ring road. McIver has also served in government as Minister of Transportation (twice), Infrastructure, Jobs Skills Training and Labour.
Most recently Premier Danielle Smith named McIver the provincial representative for the highly contentious Calgary arena deal.
Cause for concern
The announcement of the new cabinet didn’t bring much in terms of surprises, except for Adriana LaGrange as the Minister of Health, according to Duane Bratt.
LaGrange previously served as Minister of Education. Her time in the role was constantly marred by problems relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused significant disruptions to all levels of schooling.
Bratt questioned whether LaGrange’s move to Minster of Health was a smart choice.
“She had some difficulties in her previous portfolio in education, particularly as she dealt with teachers. Can she repair that with nurses and doctors and help,” Bratt said.
“That’s the one that I’m a bit surprised with and health is always a tough portfolio at the best of times.”
Lisa Young, a political science professor at the University of Calgary also questioned the decision but offered a bit of optimism for the province.
“Appointing Adriana LaGrange in Health is an, um, interesting choice,” Young wrote in an article on substack.com.
“Why appoint LaGrange? I think it’s significant that she is not a Calgary MLA. Some of the worst problems in the system are outside the cities. As a Red Deer MLA, LaGrange can focus her attention on the particular problems in smaller centres.”
The handling of healthcare was one of the biggest issues during the provincial election.
On May 24, 2023, Alberta doctors published an open letter to citizens stating, “our emergency departments are collapsing, and frontline healthcare workers have truly had enough.”
This letter was signed by 190 ER docs in Alberta.
LaGrange is now tasked with trying to repair the damaged relationship between the provincial government and healthcare workers.