Aklberta's Alison Redford

Moving on to the “second-day lead,” the Edmonton Journal informed us yesterday morning that “caucus warmly welcomes premier-designate Redford” — big surprise, that — and that “cabinet speculation continues.”

Well, duh….

You want cabinet speculation, I’ll give you cabinet speculation, and I won’t do what the Journal did and describe who hugged whom as a technique for reading the ministerial tealeaves.

The designated-premierial huggees according to the Journal’s dutiful scribe, were Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette, Infrastructure Minister Ray Danyluk and Solicitor General Frank Oberle. But if that were the criteria for success in the New Alberta Government, then the P-D’s ex-hubby would probably be the boss of her transition team. Oh, wait… he is!

Well, whatever. As a matter of fact, I put all three Ed Stelmach ministers in P-D Alison Redford’s new cabinet too, but for way better reasons than the Journal did. I put ’em there because of idle coffee-time speculation with Dave Cournoyer, the author of the Daveberta blog. And if Alberta’s two leading political bloggers can’t get it right, who the heck can? Paul McLoughlin? Don Braid?

So here’s the scoop, people: As soon as Redford is sworn in next week, she’ll sit down with her ex-husband (Robert Hawkes), her Chief of Staff (Stephen Carter) and the guy from the Monarchist League of Canada to figure out who’s going to be in cabinet. First thing, I’ll bet, they’ll draw up three lists:

1)    Who’s In
2)    Who’s Out
3)    Too Soon to Say

They won’t necessarily draft them in that order, of course.

List No. 1 is going to have to be short, because Redford promised a smaller cabinet, didn’t she? If she didn’t, that would make her unique in this history of Tory leadership candidate races. You know, like her acceptance speech — the one that for the first time in the history of Canadian leadership contests made no mention of her opponents!

Well, Climac the Magnificent (envelope to head) says there will be …. 20 members of cabinet, the premier included. (The 57-member cabinet will have to wait till later, after another majority is safely in the bag.)

So that means there can only be 19 names on that list. What’s more, they have to offer a good geographical balance (weighted a little to Calgary, plus lots of rural folk), a comfortable gender balance (given the limitations of any Prairie Tory caucus), reward the deserving (without including too many really dangerous dummies), and punish the equally deserving (while remembering that some of the most eminently punishable will be among the more capable ministerial possibilities).

If she can also show a nice mix of the astonishingly new and the reassuringly experienced, that would be an asset too — plus settle down some of the embittered Mar supporters in caucus. She also needs to keep her promise to eliminate some of the “household names” Albertans have gotten used to — and sick of.

Needless to say, doing all this with only 20 chairs in the room will be tough.

So here’s my Alison Redford In List, which I worked up after carefully consulting with Daveberta for 10 minutes yesterday:

–    Doug Horner, Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert (Deputy Premier … no prize for this one, she’s already announced it)

–    Dave Rodney, Calgary-Lougheed (He’s the guy gazing lovingly at the new premier in all those post acceptance photos … Finance Minister?)

–    David Hancock, Edmonton-White mud (Named Government House leader today)

–    Ted Morton, Foothills-Rocky View (Minister of something important, but not too important, to pacify the loony right; preferably nothing involving firearms)

–    Gene Zwozdesky, Edmonton-Mill Creek (Minister of something that needs soothing…)

–    Art Johnston, Calgary-Hayes (the only MLA to back Ms. Redford in Round 1 … the subject who is truly loyal has gotta be rewarded!)

–    Ray Danyluk, Lac La Biche-St. Paul

–    Robin Campbell, West Yellowhead

–    Cal Dallas, Red Deer South

–    Kyle Fawcett, Calgary-North Hill

–    Yvonne Fritz, Calgary-Cross

–    Jack Hayden, Drumheller-Stettler

–    Cindy Ady, Calgary-Shaw (no Alberta cabinet can survive without a Mormon, and Rob Anderson’s not available, though he surely must wish he was…)

–    Jeff Johnson, Athabasca-Redwater

–    Diana McQueen, Drayton Valley-Calmar

–    Frank Oberle, Peace River

–    Verlyn Olsen, Wetaskwin-Camrose

–    Luke Ouellette, Innisfail-Sylvan Lake

–    Janice Sarich, Edmonton-Decore

OK, that takes care of the outright winners. Next, though, they’ll have to cook up the Too Soon To Say List.

These are the people who will be moved into cabinet in the event someone on the A-list decides on a quick career change, suffers a health crisis or goes out for a smoke and never returns. In some cases, they backed the wrong horse but could do the job. In others, they moved to the right horse soon enough to expect a reward, but aren’t really cabinet material … no matter what they may think.

Naturally, these folks are also prime candidates to be named “Parliamentary Secretaries,” which means they get to sit in the cabinet room and, if they wish, run later for the leadership of the Alberta Liberal Party. That is, of course, if Redford decides to have Parliamentary Secretaries at all.

–    Lindsay “I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it” Blackett, Calgary North West

–    Thomas Lukaszuk, Edmonton-Castle Downs

–    Lloyd Snelgrove, Vermilion-Lloydminster

–    Doug Elniski, Edmonton-Calder (a giant among MLAs, literally)

–    Greg Weadick, Lethbridge West

–    Len Webber, Calgary-Foothills

–    Manmeet Bhullar, Calgary-Montrose

–    Genia Leskew, Bonnyville-Cold Lake

Then, of course, there is the sensitive matter of what to do with Ken Kowalski, the Legislature’s longest serving MLA and slyest old fox. On the theory that it pays to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, it might be best to let him serve out the rest of his career as Speaker.

The rest? Well, they’d be on the Out List for one or more of the reasons you’d expect, including several like the outgoing premier who have made it clear they don’t intend to run again.

A few, however, will make it easy for Redford to fulfill her promise to eliminate some household names if she got to steer the ship. Indeed, some of these folks deserve special mention:

–    Ron Liepert, Calgary West, the former cabinet tough guy whose special job was to make sure MLAs behaved themselves and backed his candidate, Gary Mar. Whoops! Today, Liepert didn’t sound at all like a Conservative who was interested in playing nice with the new team captain.

–    Iris Evans, Sherwood Park, another veteran cabinet minister and Tory warhorse identified too closely with the Mar campaign.

–    Doug Griffiths, Battle River-Wainwright, the last-place candidate who looked like he was about to send his supporters to Redford, then switched to Mar. His campaign team and his riding went to Redford anyway, and his chances of a cabinet post went down, down, down and the flames went higher.

Redford says her No. 1 priority is to put funding back into education. This means many teachers can now be hired province-wide. Perhaps one of these will be Griffiths, if his teacher’s certificate is still valid. Heaven knows, he won’t have much of a future in the Legislature.

Disagree? Well, don’t worry about it. Like Redford’s decision to have no fall session of the Legislature, by tomorrow everything may have changed … including your blogger’s mind.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog, Alberta Diary.

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...