By Cole Parkinson
Westwind Weekly News
While the next legislature sitting is approaching quickly, Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter is preparing for a handful of topics. Originally, the session was to begin in late October, but that was pushed back due to the by-election that saw Premier Smith win her seat in the Brooks-Medicine Hat riding.
“So she (had) to win in a riding to be an MLA so she can sit in the legislature. She is the leader of the United Conservative Party and she is also been sworn in as the nineteenth premier of Alberta, but she (was) not an MLA,” explained Hunter. “Michaela Frey stepped down and she is no longer going to be the MLA there, so that’s opened up an opportunity for the premier to run in that riding.”
With the first sitting scheduled for Nov. 29 and the by-election finished, MLAs will soon be making their way to the legislature building. With Smith making comments around a variety of topics, Hunter is readying for plenty of discussion. One thing that is sure to be brought up is the Sovereignty Act.
“The premier has campaigned on the Sovereignty Act and that would be her first piece of legislation. That has been in the news quite a bit and there have been some pretty good articles by the newshounds out there that talked bout the pros and cons — some are for it and some are against it. I have not been given a briefing on the Sovereignty Act, the piece of legislation has not been written so it has not been handed to me,” continued Hunter. “Based upon what I understand, from what Premier Smith has said, she said it would not break the constitutional laws and it will just entrench Alberta’s constitutional rights. Maybe we’ll wait to talk about that until the first reading of that act. I know people in my riding are a little concerned about it and not really sure about it. We’re a people that believe in the rule of law and so, they want to see that. I believe Premier Smith is the same and she believes in the rule of law, obviously, she’s concerned as many of us are, about the federal government and their intrusion on provincial jurisdiction on a regular basis over many decades. The federal government has pushed the envelope and tried to take matters into their own hands, but most of those things are actually provincial jurisdiction.”
Another topic Hunter is preparing for is discussions around Alberta Health Services. While Hunter highlighted the fact there were no concerns around the frontlines of AHS, there were some with the higher-ups.
“Some of the other things the premier has said she is going to work on is she is going to work on a 30-day review of Alberta Health Services. I don’t know if a company has been tasked to do that yet, but she said she’s going to do that. I think there are lots of people out there concerned, and rightly so, about how Alberta Health Services — and not so much about what we see on the frontline because they are doing amazing work. Doctors and nurses are doing incredible work, but more about what is happening in middle management and how many middle managers there are. She’s going to do some review and talk about that.”
Hunter also touched on the United Conservative Party annual general meeting that saw changes within the cabinet.
“Up until now, cabinet has largely been Calgary centric and I think 70 per cent of cabinet has been MLAs from Calgary and they obviously don’t have 70 per cent of the population of Alberta. She said she would fix that and change that,” he said.
Ministers in the cabinet moving forward are as follows:
• Deputy Premier and Minister of Skilled Trades and Professions – Kaycee Madu
• Deputy Premier and Minister of Infrastructure – Nathan Neudorf
• President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance – Travis Toews
• Minister of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development – Brian Jean
• Minister of Justice – Tyler Shandro
• Minister of Health – Jason Copping
• Minister of Energy – Pete Guthrie
• Minister of Environment and Protected Areas – Sonya Savage
• Minister of Technology and Innovation – Nate Glubish
• Minister of Affordability and Utilities – Matt Jones
• Minister of Municipal Affairs – Rebecca Schulz
• Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors – Devin Dreeshen
• Minister of Public Safety – Mike Ellis
• Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation – Nate Horner
• Minister of Forestry, Parks and Tourism – Todd Loewen
• Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism – Rajan Sawhney
• Minister of Education – Adriana LaGrange
• Minister of Advanced Education – Demetrios Nicolaides
• Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction – Dale Nally
• Minister of Indigenous Relations – Rick Wilson
• Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services – Jeremy Nixon
• Minister of Children’s Services – Mickey Amery
• Minister of Mental Health and Addictions – Nicholas Milliken
• Minister of Culture – Jason Luan
Caucus leadership positions will include:
• Whip (Minister without portfolio) – Brad Rutherford
• House Leader (Minister without portfolio) – Joseph Schow
• Deputy House Leaders – Kaycee Madu, Mickey Amery, David Hanson