17873240999_6c3464e3a7_hRachel Notley and her cabinet on the front steps of the Alberta legislature on May 24, 2015. Photo credit: Paula Kirman, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

By Taryn Brandell 

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has expanded her cabinet size by nearly half giving her cabinet a total of 19 members. This was the second cabinet shuffle since the NDP party took power last spring.

The new members of cabinet were sworn in at an 11 a.m. ceremony at the Government House in Edmonton. The ceremony was live-streamed all across the country.

Notley announced the changes to her cabinet via her twitter account including a link to the live-stream event.

“We feel now is the time, as we work to implement a pretty robust cabinet agenda, that we should share the workload among our capable members,” said the premier’s spokeswoman, Cheryl Oates.

Last spring Notley’s cabinet had only 12 members and grew to 13 with the addition of Danielle Larivee (originally Deron Bilous) for the Economic Development Department.

The new cabinet of 19 includes ten women and an openly gay cabinet minister. Ricardo Miranda, who represents the district of Calgary Cross, now heads Culture and Tourism.

“I guess it’s historic in some ways, but to me it’s just a reflection of how far we’ve come in this province,” Miranda said after he was sworn in at Government House on Tuesday.

Kristopher Wells, director of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies at the U of A (University of Alberta) also used Twitter to congratulate Miranda on becoming the “first publicly out LGBTQ cabinet minister in Alberta’s history.”

Wells used the hashtag #DiversityMatters.

“When our government was elected we promised to bring change to Alberta,” Notley said in a media scrum on Feb. 2. “Part of the change was to government itself. Last May I introduced a cabinet that truly reflected the diversity of our province’s population, including the first gender-balanced cabinet in Alberta’s history.”

Notley said that when times become tough here in Alberta, it’s important to both hear from and meet with Albertans.

“We need to expand the cabinet in order for that to happen,” she said. “We’re hoping that we’ve struck the right balance so that our cabinet will have the time now to be able to engage even more with members of the public.”

Including the premier, there are six cabinet members from Edmonton, six are from Calgary, three are from north-central Alberta and one is from Lethbridge in the south.

Certain members of the new cabinet are listed as follows:

Marlin Schmidt takes over Advanced Education as a stand-alone portfolio.

Richard Feehan is the new minister for Indigenous Relations (which used to be part of the Justice Ministry).

Stephanie McLean, the former deputy whip, is the new minister for Service Alberta that is in charge of provincial registries and Brandy Payne is now an associate minister for health.

 

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