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Message from Notley signals departure of former cabinet minister Stephanie McLean

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Stephanie McLean and baby Patrick at the Legislature in 2016 (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

If there's an Alberta version of what used to be known as a "Kremlinologist," or the study of the politics and policies of Russia, they'll be puzzling over yesterday evening's announcement by Premier Rachel Notley via social media about the departure of former Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean.

Notley's statement on Facebook at about 10 p.m. raised a few questions and suggested a need to read between the lines.

"We have received notice that MLA Stephanie McLean has resigned from her position as an elected member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta," it began, which seems an odd way to start something like this.

The first question that might spring to an enquiring reader's mind is, "When?" No details were provided.

Rather than celebrate McLean's role in cabinet, the premier's statement talked about her past legal business first.

Perhaps in the name of economy of words, it passed rather lightly over the historic role McLean played as the first Alberta MLA to give birth while in office. Her son, Patrick, was born on Feb. 12, 2016. The Notley government thereafter made an effort to make the legislature a friendlier place for MLAs with young children.

McLean resigned from cabinet on June 18. Her interest in the government and governing seems to have waned considerably since then.

In May, she announced she did not plan to seek re-election. She has been on leave from the legislature throughout the fall 2018 session. She has not been much seen in her Calgary-Varsity electoral district in recent months, and is thought to have been living for the past couple of months in Edmonton, where her husband works.

While it's not clear why McLean chose to quit before the election, creating potentially less than ideal optics for the government, the timing suggests there was a political calculation to ensure her resignation was late enough not to require a byelection before the general election expected in the spring.

Notley's statement concluded by noting that McLean led the government's "commitment to end sexual violence and organized a campaign to encourage women to run for municipal office." It wished her and her family well in their future endeavours.

Don't expect to hear much more about this from the government, and probably not that much from the opposition either. Everyone will likely be moving on quickly.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this blog incorrectly stated that McLean resigned from cabinet four months after her son's birth. It was in fact two years and four months. rabble regrets this error.

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Photo: David J. Climenhaga

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