One week after her historic election victory, Rachel Notley appointed a veteran New Democratic strategist as her chief of staff, met with the departing Premier and sent her caucus of rookies to get schooling in legislative procedure from the Speaker.
Leading the next premier's office will be Brian Topp, the chair of Ms. Notley's transition team and her head of communications during the campaign. Mr. Topp has deep roots with the federal NDP but is a newcomer to Alberta.
The announcement came an hour after Ms. Notley met Premier Jim Prentice for the first time since her party swept the Progressive Conservatives from office. The dozen steps Mr. Prentice took in front of cameras also marked the first time the departing Premier has been seen in public since his concession speech. He took no questions.
"We talked about the need to ensure stability," Ms. Notley said, adding that the transition is proceeding smoothly. "I'm very grateful for the co-operation that we are receiving as we prepare to assume office."
Having yet to finalize who will sit in her cabinet, the premier-designate hasn't been able to provide many specifics on her government's agenda. She has said she will make an announcement in the coming days about her cabinet, when the legislature will meet and firmer details on her legislative promises.
Some in the province's energy industry have been worried about her party's platform, which calls for increased corporate taxes and a review of royalties. But there are early signs that Ms. Notley is moving cautiously and avoiding drastic shake-ups.
"She is walking the talk in regards to the importance she attaches to stability and continuity," Richard Dicerni told The Globe and Mail on Tuesday. Mr. Dicerni was installed as head of Alberta's civil service by Mr. Prentice last year. The NDP asked him on Tuesday to remain in the role.
Alberta's new class of MLAs entered the provincial legislature as a group for the first time on Tuesday for a day of tutoring from Speaker Gene Zwozdesky. With 70 rookie MLAs in the 87-member chamber, the orientation covered a range of civics lessons from procedure to the rules of debate.
"Emotion can overcome you in this chamber, unlike anything you've ever felt before," Mr. Zwozdesky warned. The Speaker lost his own seat and will be replaced.
Ms. Notley's team is also learning quickly. After years of working with a shoestring budget as the province's fourth party, her staff remains small but is growing rapidly as the New Democrats prepare to take office.
Ms. Notley's staff took pains on Tuesday to point to Mr. Topp's time as deputy chief of staff to Saskatchewan NDP premier Roy Romanow from 1993 to 2000. Mr. Topp is a former NDP president and senior adviser to the late federal leader Jack Layton. New Democrats praised Mr. Topp's promotion.
"The premier[-designate] got a superb person, and from everything I know about her, he got a superb premier to work with," said Ed Broadbent, a former leader of the federal NDP. "He's a skilled negotiator, he knows that no one can get the whole loaf, but he'll ensure that the premier gets more than her share."
Mr. Broadbent endorsed Mr. Topp's run for the federal NDP leadership in 2012 – a race he lost to current Leader Thomas Mulcair. Mr. Topp also headed the 2013 provincial election in British Columbia for the NDP. Despite starting that race with a sizable lead in the polls over B.C. Premier Christy Clark, the NDP lost. Mr. Topp has admitted to strategic errors that harmed the party.
The victory in Alberta has provided some personal redemption.
"He was part of the team that helped propel Ms. Notley to office," said Robin MacLachlan, a political strategist who has worked as an NDP adviser. "And one of the things that impressed people was how strongly the NDP stayed on message despite the onslaught of attacks."
Adrienne King, Ms. Notley's chief of staff as opposition leader, will become Mr. Topp's deputy.
The appointments come at an important point in the transition. While Mr. Prentice is still the province's Premier, Ms. Notley confirmed Tuesday that the levers of government are now in her hands. "Trust me, should there be an emergency, I'm the go-to person," she said.