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Premier Alison Redford's new cabinet a real head-scratcher

Change, change, change. It was the mantra of Alison Redford’s ebullient campaign that was nearly flawless, capped off in her come-from-behind victory to become premier.

Change, change, change.

It was the mantra of Alison Redford’s ebullient campaign that was nearly flawless, capped off in her come-from-behind victory to become premier.

Now, with the introduction of her cabinet, it seems Redford has crossed her wires and decided to shackle some prison balls to her ankles.

While she shrunk her cabinet to 21 from 24, Redford kept some crusty remnants of Ed Stelmach’s government with appointments that are questionable at best.

Chief among them was retaining Ted Morton, Ron Liepert and Fred Horne.

Morton, creator of the Land-use Framework and scorner of Albertans’ property rights has been handed the energy portfolio. He will do a good job promoting the oilsands, but beyond that, it’s pretty bleak. At least he said Bill 50 needs re-tooling. Joining Morton in the cabinet is his former crony parliamentary assistant, Evan Berger, MLA for Livingstone-Macleod, who is now the agriculture minister.

Winning another heralded portfolio, for reasons beyond understanding, Liepert is now head of finance. This is the same Liepert who gave teachers an unconscionable five-year contract to make Stelmach’s regime look like a well-run machine in 2007. He followed up that odious covenant with the formation of the province’s Health Superboard. The board turned efficiencies into bureaucratic deficiencies and hired a sweet-tooth question-dodging chairman. All told, Liepert spent about $3 billion in his years as education and health minister, with few positive results.

Fred Horne, the former parliamentary assistant to Gene Zwozdesky, is now in charge of health in Alberta. This is the man who accused booted PC MLA Raj Sherman of being mentally unstable. He had a meeting with Dr. Patrick White, the head of the Alberta Medical Association, to prove this and later said he was just checking in on the well-being of a friend. As it turns out, Sherman isn’t crazy, he was just sick of his party handcuffing him in caucus and hiding possible claims of queue jumping. Now, he’s leading the Alberta Liberals.

These are some of the faces of the most important cabinet ministers of Redford’s government.

It certainly looks peculiar on paper. Morton voted for Gary Mar on his ballot and openly supported the former envoy to the USA after he failed to reach the second round of voting. Also voting for Mar was Thomas Lukaszuk, the new education minister.

Dave Hancock, another Mar gusher, has also been retained to look after the black hole of capital known as human services. Despite being a minister under Stelmach, Hancock could do a good job with any portfolio thrown his way. His tenure in education was spent trying to hold court after Liepert’s debacle and Morton’s wildly unbalanced budgets that caused education to lose huge amounts of money last year.

Much of Redford’s cabinet is nothing more than restacking of the deck. Many of these individuals are Stelmach’s leftovers and would be better suited for a Mar government, so it’s a little odd Redford has reaffirmed these people.

As voters gear up for the 2012 election, it appears the PCs are still going to dominate without a hint of threat from other parties. A poll conducted by the Citizens Society Research Lab at Lethbridge College during the second ballot vote Oct. 1-2, found the Tories hit nearly 50 per cent support.

This is bad news for everyone else, including Wildrose, the self-prescribed antidote to 40 years of PC stagnation. Wildrose is polling neck-and-neck-and-neck with the Orange Wave of NDP and the Liberals between 13 and 16 per cent.

One fact remains clear, opposition parties will have plenty of ammunition to fire at the PCs when the next election is called — the numerous faces left over from the Stelmach government, including Redford’s own.

Airdrie City View Staff

About the Author: Airdrie City View Staff

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