Kenney sworn in, appoints cabinet
Jason Kenney has appointed 19 cabinet ministers following his swearing in Tuesday morning as Alberta’s 18th premier.
“We are acutely aware of the burden of responsibility that comes with these offices that you have bestowed today, and we will strive every day to live up to the trust conferred in us by the people of Alberta,” Kenney promised of his government.
“We will seek to do so by keeping our commitments,” he said. “To stand up for Alberta against other government sand foreign-funded interests that seek to block our progress, and to make life better for Albertans, especially by ensuring the quality of our public services.”
Among the 22 members that were sworn in, 19 were named ministers and three associate ministers. Among those appointed on Tuesday were Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer, who was named provincial secretary. Accountant Travis Toews was appointed finance minister, while former Catholic trustee Adriana LaGrange was given the education portfolio. Tanya Fir, of Calgary-Peigan, was sworn in as minister of economic development, trade and tourism. Sonya Savage, member for Calgary-North West, was made minister of energy. Kaycee Madu, the only UCP candidate elected in Edmonton, was sworn in as minister of municipal affairs.
Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter received the most laughter and applause when he was named the associate minister of a new portfolio: red tape reduction, an initiative the United Conservatives promised to deliver during the campaign.
Jason Nixon and Leela Aheer were named ministers of environment and parks, and of culture, multiculturalism and status of women, respectively.
And Calgary-Foothills MLA Jason Luan—one of four men in Alberta’s new government who share the same first name—was named associate minister of mental health and addictions.
“We will focus relentlessly on creating good jobs, growing the economy and building pipelines west, east, and south to get our products to market and to secure the full value of our resources—and with it our future prosperity,” Kenney said of his new cabinet.
However, criticism from the opposition was swift.
"This is a cabinet that will take us backwards," NDP MLA Deron Bilous said.
"There are nearly as many Jasons as there are women," he added, referencing the six women who make up the rest of Kenney's cabinet.
According to the new premier, the government's first session will start May 21. Kenney said the first bill will be legislation to repeal the carbon tax, although that's expected to be replaced by federal rules. He also promised quick action to proclaim the previous government's Bill 12, or the "turn off the taps" legislation, though he said there were not yet plans to use it.
Former premier Rachel Notley has promised to stay on as opposition leader. She will have an experienced caucus that includes 12 former cabinet ministers.
With files from Bill Fortier