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Pop quiz: Name Alberta's past four energy ministers.

Now, list their respective deep experience in global energy before being appointed to the crucial portfolio by their Progressive Conservative bosses.

Only true obsessives about energy or politics, and those with a serious need of outside interests, would score 100 per cent on those questions. But they highlight the flawed logic ricocheting around downtown Calgary following Premier Rachel Notley's choice for minister of energy in her fledgling NDP cabinet.

It sends a profoundly negative signal to the energy industry and its worldwide providers of capital, the argument goes, to name former teacher and school administrator Marg McCuaig-Boyd, oil and gas neophyte, to the post. The argument has holes large enough through which to drive a frac truck.

The answer to my initial question is Frank Oberle, Diana McQueen, Ken Hughes and Ted Morton. As for their CVs, Mr. Oberle, an invisible man in the post under former premier Jim Prentice, had a lot of experience in forestry. Ms. McQueen is a onetime small-town mayor who held a number of cabinet posts for the Tories. Mr. Hughes has a master's degree in public administration and had been chairman of Alberta Health Services during a tumultuous period. He was once chairman of Wenzel Downhole Tools Ltd., an oil service company. Mr. Morton, before entering public life, was a political science professor, albeit one with a famously conservative bent.

Other than Mr. Hughes, there is a dearth of former oil patch chief executives, industry association heads, analysts or investment bankers in the bunch. Ms. McCuaig-Boyd's energy-industry-free résumé is not the real issue among oil patch leaders – it's that their party of choice lost the election, quite resoundingly. At least some of that was a rejection of the perceived coziness between the government and the oil industry.

With Ms. Notley's NDP now in power, what did they expect? It's illogical that the government would replicate Tory rule in any portfolio.

None of this lets the new minister off the hook, though. In fact, it only adds to the urgency facing her as the government tries to calm investors sweating about higher royalties and taxes as crude prices remain far below last year's levels and the industry sheds jobs. Stock prices have weakened since Ms. Notley's victory, despite recent gains in oil prices.

If Ms. McCuaig-Boyd thought Alberta voters were a tough audience, she hasn't seen anything yet. Some business leaders are sending out anything but warm and fuzzy vibes in the days following her swearing in. Others are just trying to find out who she is.

So, who is she? The 62-year-old member for the riding of Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley in northern Alberta earned her bachelor of education degree at the University of Alberta and has a master's in administration and leadership from San Diego State University. Ms. McCuaig-Boyd worked as a teacher and school administrator in the Peace River district for more than two decades before moving on to become vice-president at the Fairview Campus of Grande Prairie Regional College.

How she deals with a prickly energy sector is still anyone's guess. As a main character in a 12-member cabinet, she will need to be the quickest of studies on pressing issues facing very skeptical people with billions of dollars riding on some of her decisions. It's hard to imagine that she hasn't already started to work the phones to seek out confidants.

Topping the agenda is Ms. Notley's campaign pledge to review royalties paid by the oil and gas industry to determine if Albertans are receiving sufficient rent for their resources. Whether one believes they are or not, the suggestion that rates could be raised during a downturn has been problematic and the effort should not be rushed. The Premier has promised no surprises, but this remains the sector's biggest worry, having struggled through such a review in the past decade.

On the issue of more upgrading of bitumen within Alberta, another campaign plank, Ms. McCuaig-Boyd should be pragmatic there as well. Perhaps wait to see how the North West Sturgeon Upgrader, where taxpayers are already exposed to major financial risk following a cost overrun, to see if that's a model worth duplicating.

In the end, a lack of initial experience won't be Ms. McCuaig-Boyd's biggest challenge, but the ability to make smart decisions early in her tenure when a big part of her audience is betting she won't.

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