Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has announced a “limited reset” of his cabinet to accommodate a renamed portfolio for jobs, the economy and innovation.
Doug Schweitzer, who was justice minister, will head the rebranded department.
“This effectively takes the Economic Development, Trade and Tourism portfolio (and) renames it,” Kenney said. “Additional functions will be added to the ministry over the weeks and months that come.
“This is a broadened and expanded ministry.”
Tanya Fir, who headed the original portfolio, has been moved to the backbenches.
Kenney says Schweitzer will work to implement Alberta’s recently launched plan to rejuvenate its faltering economy.
“Alberta is being hit especially hard with the double whammy of the global coronavirus recession, on top of that the collapse of energy prices which has clobbered our largest industry – oil and gas,” Kenney said in front of Government House.
The Conference Board of Canada on Tuesday released a report forecasting Alberta will be the most heavily hit province economically this year with an 11 per contraction in its GDP.
Kaycee Madu, a lawyer who was born in Nigeria, takes over from Schweitzer. Kenney said Madu is the first Black justice minister in Canada and will oversee a crackdown on crime, particularly offences against property; review the Police Act and introduce legislation this fall that would allow citizen-initiated referendums.
Backbencher Tracy Allard, a businesswoman and member of the legislature for Grande Prairie, enters cabinet as Madu’s replacement at municipal affairs. Kenney said she “personifies the entrepreneurial culture of Alberta.”
He said it will be her job to help municipalities get through the COVID-19 crisis and to stop them from raising taxes at a time when every aspect of the economy has been hard hit. He is also tasking her with developing “fiscal report cards” for municipalities to gauge how they are doing and to compare them with other municipalities across the country.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro, who has been fighting since before the pandemic with the province’s doctors over how they get paid, remains in his portfolio. Both doctors and the Opposition had called for him to be moved, but Kenney said Shandro has the premier’s 100 per cent support.
Kenney said the cabinet shuffle ensures that “we have the right people in the right place as we ensure a strong recovery from the COVID recession.”
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