Alberta election hot take: Who could make up Jason Kenney’s UCP cabinet?
Editor’s Note: This story originally said Nate Horner was the son of former MLA Doug Horner, and included several neighbourhoods in the riding Edmonton-South West that are in fact in other constituencies. In addition, it contained an unattributed allegation against a candidate in Edmonton-Southwest. The story has since been corrected.
Albertans have selected the United Conservative Party to form the province’s new government, which means many first-time MLAs and a brand new cabinet.
The UCP, formed two years ago by a merger of the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties, held its rural and Calgary seats and took back many of the breakthrough NDP wins in those regions in 2015.
The unofficial results have the UCP winning 63 of Alberta’s 87 ridings. Broken down, that’s 19 incumbents and 44 rookies. So who will Jason Kenney pick to become cabinet ministers?
Global News Chief Political Correspondent David Akin weighed in during Tuesday night’s election coverage, saying cabinet-making is tricky for any leader.
“You want competent people, of course, but actually the most important consideration, of course, right off the bat, is regional representation,” Akin explained.
“Usually for Alberta cabinet, you’re going to have somebody from the north, someone from the central part of the province, some people from the south, and then of course from Calgary and Edmonton. That’s where you wanna go.”
That could be complicated with Edmonton being an island of NDP orange in a sea of UCP blue — with one possible exception.
READ MORE: Major upsets in the Alberta election
The race in Edmonton-South West remained undeclared Wednesday morning, as there were less than 1,000 votes separating UCP front-runner Kaycee Madu from the NDP’s John Archer and the “vote anywhere” ballots cast during last week’s advance polls have yet to be counted.
The rest of the greater Edmonton ridings — Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, Leduc-Beaumont, Morinville-St Albert, Sherwood Mark, Spruce Grove-Stony Plain, and Strathcona-Sherwood Park — all were won by the UCP.
“Obviously, Kenney’s got lots and lots of choices,” Akin said.
Here are his predictions for who could make the cut for cabinet, based on conversations with sources:
Laila Goodridge, Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche
Laila Goodridge is the incumbent for this new northern Alberta riding, which is a combination of the former Fort McMurray-Conklin and Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills ridings.
Goodridge ran unsuccessfully as a Wildrose candiate in 2015, and was later elected for the UCP in the 2018 byelection to replace Brian Jean in Fort McMurray-Conklin.
She previously worked as a staffer for Brian Jean and has experience in the oil and gas industry.
Akin’s take: Goodridge’s experience working for Brian Jean will earn her a seat at the table.
Shane Getson, Lac Ste Anne-Parkland
Shane Getson defeated NDP incumbent Oneil Carlier, who took advantage of PC/Wildrose vote splitting to win by just 474 votes in 2015.
Getson is a civil engineering technologist who graduated from NAIT, and has worked as a project co-ordinator and construction manager. He has been used often for strategic planning and project recovery roles in Canada and the U.S.
Getson grew up on a small mixed farm in Alberta and is also a private pilot.
Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland is a new riding, northwest of Edmonton, containing all of Lac Ste. Anne County and part of Parkland County. It also contains part of Sturgeon County, some Treaty 6 First Nations, and the towns of Mayerthorpe, Onoway and Whitecourt. The riding had been Conservative since it was created in 1993.
Akin’s take: Getson’s experience as a civil engineer and representing a riding north of Edmonton could earn him a cabinet post.
Kaycee Madu, Edmonton-South West
Kaycee Madu has not officially been declared (as of publishing) but Akin predicts if he is, Madu will be part of cabinet. Former CBC legislature reporter John Archer is the NDP candidate.
Kaycee Madu grew up in Nigeria and graduated from the University of Lagos with a Bachelor of Laws (LL. B) Honours degree. Madu practiced law until he and his wife migrated to Canada in 2005 for his wife’s postgraduate studies at the University of Alberta. The couple manages a small law firm in Edmonton.
He ran in the new riding of Edmonton-South West, which includes the communities of Ambleside and Windermere, as well as the Cameron Heights and Hamptons area.
Nate Glubish, Strathcona-Sherwood Park
Nate Glubish, 37, was elected in the Strathcona-Sherwood Park riding directly east of Edmonton, where there was no incumbent. The area has voted PC in recent elections, however, was captured during the 2015 orange crush by Estefania Cortes-Vargas.
Cortes-Vargas defeated PC incumbent David Quest, who had been seeking a third term. Quest ran again in 2019 as an Alberta Party candidate, while Cortes-Vargas did not seek re-election.
Glubish was born in Edmonton and grew up in Saskatoon, where he earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in Finance, from the University of Saskatchewan before moving back to the Edmonton area in 2004.
Glubish works for Yaletown Partners, a Venture Capital fund, and facilitates investment in Alberta technology companies. He previously worked for Foundation Equity, an investment firm, managing mergers and acquisitions.
Akin’s take: Glubish could bring a youthful voice to cabinet.
Jordan Walker, Sherwood Park
Jordan Walker, 35, defeated NDP incumbent Anne McKitrick in the Sherwood Park riding directly east of Edmonton. It had been a solidly PC riding since 1997, until the 2015 NDP orange crush.
He was a member of the Sherwood Park Wildrose Constituency Association.
Walker has Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees, with focuses on political science, history, and international relations.
Has worked in the private and public sector, in fields of international credential assessment, immigration, and labour mobility.
In his 20s, Walker spent a year in Japan working as an ESL teacher and speaks basic-level Japanese.
Akin’s take: Walker could also bring a young perspective to cabinet.
Sonya Savage, Calgary-North West
Sonya Savage was elected Calgary-North West, which has been predominantly PC since its creation in 1979 and was held by PC Sandra Jansen since 2012. Jansen crossed the floor to join the NDP in November 2016, and in January announced she would not be seeking re-election.
Savage has a masters of law in environment and energy from the University of Calgary, with a published thesis on the National Energy Board. She has worked in the pipeline sector for the past 12 years and is currently the senior director of policy and regulatory affairs at the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.
Akin’s take: Predicts Savage is a shoe-in for becoming cabinet minister, calling her a favourite of Kenney.
Josephine Pon, Calgary-Beddington
Josephine Pon won in Calgary-Beddington, a new riding in the northern part of the city almost entirely made up of the former Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill riding. It also has parts of Calgary-Foothills and Calgary-Northern Hills. There was no incumbent.
Pon replaced Randy Kerr as the UCP candidate after questions about Kerr’s contribution to the Jeff Callaway campaign surfaced.
Josephine Pon’s experience includes working in the mortgage insurance, international trade and the assisted housing departments of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation before becoming a Regional Manager in the financial industry, overseeing international multicultural banking activities. She is currently VP of the Taste of Asia restaurant group.
Akin’s take: Akin thinks Pon will make the cut as she will help Kenney have a balanced cabinet.
Rajan Sawhney, Calgary-North East
Rajan Sawhney won in the new riding of Calgary-North East, which is made up of parts of the former Calgary-Northern Hills, Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill and Calgary-McCall. It had no incumbent and no other high-profile candidates.
Sawhney is a community volunteer and a senior professional in the oil and gas industry, who was born and raised in northeast Calgary.
She holds a degree in economics and political science, as well as an MBA from the University of Calgary.
Nate (Nathan) Horner, Drumheller-Stettler
Nate Horner defeated incumbent and ex-UCP/Wildrose MLA Rick Strankman for the UCP nomination in Drumheller-Stettler, prompting Strankman to quit the UCP and run as an independent.
The riding was a PC stronghold from its creation in 2004, but in 2012 Rick Strankman won the seat for the Wildrose in an upset victory over the PC incumbent Jack Hayden, and held on to it in 2015.
Drumheller-Stettler is a riding in east-central Alberta, covering a large area that stretches to the Saskatchewan border.
Horner is a rancher near Hanna and holds an AgBusiness diploma from Olds College, and a B.Sc. Degree in Agriculture from the University of Lethbridge.
Nate Horner comes from a long line of politicians and is related to Doug Horner, a 14-year MLA who held several cabinet positions and was a deputy premier under both Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford.
Akin’s take: Horner will become minister of agriculture.
WATCH: What is a cabinet shuffle?
— With files from David Akin, Global News
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