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Opposition Leader Brian Jean completes shadow shuffle, leaves Derek Fildebrandt in finance

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Photo of Opposition Leader Brian Jean. Flickr/Sergei ~ 5of7

Seemingly flying beneath the radar, Wildrose Opposition Leader Brian Jean has completed a significant reshuffle of his shadow cabinet, the party’s MLA page shows.

All 22 Wildrose MLAs in the Alberta legislature hold a major critic’s portfolio, and 14 of them were assigned new jobs in the shuffle. Click here to see the full assignment list.

Among the most significant changes:

  • Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes moves from health to energy
  • Chestermere-Rocky View MLA Leela Aheer from energy to education
  • Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao from caucus chair to health
  • Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Glenn van Dijken from transportation to labour
  • The most significant non-move was that of Strathmore Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt, who despite being a persistent thorn in Mr. Jean’s side for the better part of 2016, remains comfortably ensconced in the important finance portfolio.

Meanwhile, however, the most important potential change of them all wasn’t part of the shuffle … just yet, anyway.

But persistent reports today from a variety of sources indicated Mr. Jean himself is seriously eyeing a run for mayor of the Municipal District of Wood Buffalo, which encompasses the city of Fort McMurray, in the October 2017 municipal election.

With Mayor Melissa Blake planning not to seek re-election next year after nearly two decades in office, a shuffle off to Wood Buffalo offers a graceful way for Mr. Jean to solve his biggest problem and step out of the way of the juggernaut known as Jason Kenney, the front-running “unite the right” candidate to lead the Progressive Conservative Party and merge it with the Wildrose.

No doubt heavy pressure is being applied to Mr. Jean from certain well-heeled quarters for him to take the proverbial walk in the snow, with promises of generous support of his Fort Mac mayoral bid should he decide to get out of the way.

Keep in mind, though, the immortal political advice of the late U.S. president John F. Kennedy: “Where there’s smoke, there’s usually a smoke-making machine!”

If true, however, and if he succeeded, this would make Mr. Jean the first person to be MP, MLA and mayor of Fort McMurray. It would also render his allegedly better plan to unite the right, discussed in this space yesterday, moot.

UPDATE: So much for a shuffle off to Wood Buffalo. Brian Jean’s office issued a statement on Tuesday, Dec. 20, saying “Jean is absolutely not running for RMWB mayor.”

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

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